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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019

Ballyboden's secret weapon? The sprint coach directing their fitness program from China

Leinster champions have raised the fitness bar en route to the All-Ireland semis.

Sweetest thing: Ballyboden beat Portlaoise to win their first Leinster club title.
Sweetest thing: Ballyboden beat Portlaoise to win their first Leinster club title.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S found a secret weapon to help end their long wait for Leinster glory, but John Coghlan didn’t stay their secret for long.

Tired of being the capital’s nearly men, and with cross-city rivals St Vincent’s in their sights, Boden vowed that if they were to fall short this season, it wouldn’t be for a lack of fitness.

And so manager Andy McEntee recruited Coghlan, the Dublin sprint coach whose list of athletes includes ‘the fastest man in Ireland’, 100m and 200m record holder Paul Hession.

Coghlan masterminded a new strength and conditioning regime to great effect — until he was snapped up to coach some of China’s top runners on the eve of the county final.

Thankfully for Boden, the hard yards had already been done and they looked every bit as fit and fast as they wrestled the Dublin crown from Vincent’s and went on to win the club’s first provincial title.

“To be honest with you we based everything we did off the bar that Vincent’s had set the previous year,” forward Andrew Kerin said.

“We were actually delighted to be playing Vincent’s. People were saying, ‘Oh if ye had another team in there,’ but we really wanted to take them on and we felt we owed them one.

They had continuously beaten us so it was nice to beat them once. That was our focus.

“I suppose the year before we were in the game with 15 minutes to go in the semi-final and just fell away, they kind of blew us away in the last 10-15 minutes.

“We did a lot of fitness work compared to previous years and we were lucky to have a guy, John Coghlan, working with us throughout the year. He really raised the bar in fitness.”

Coghlan had been at the IMG Academy in Florida when the opportunity came up to work with China’s 4x100m sprint team, including Su Bintiang who last summer became the first Asian-born athlete to run a sub-10 second 100m.

On the back of their training camp, the Chinese went on to win silver at their home world championships in Beijing and Coghlan was offered the chance to continue his work with a squad in Shandong Province.

“We were just blessed that Andy our manager is really good friends with him,” Kerin continued.

He put a lot of work into the fitness and there wasn’t as much running around the pitch. There was a lot more intense running and we really came on from that.

Boden meet Clonmel Commercials in the All-Ireland semi-finals on Sunday but even from China, Coghlan’s fingerprints have been all over their preparations.

“In fairness to him, he’s directing operations from China,” Kerin said.

“On the Whatsapp group he sends over gym sessions every week. I’m pretty sure he tells Andy what to do for each session.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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