End of an era for Fiona

by Gazette Reporter
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FIONA Coghlan retired from international rugby in an emotional fashion last Sunday following Ireland’s 25-18 loss to Women’s World Cup hosts France, the skipper stepping down after a sparkling 11-year career in green.
Coghlan, a PE and maths teacher at Lucan CC, took over the Ireland captaincy in a permanent capacity in 2010 and calls time on international rugby at the age of 33.
She leaves the top level of the game having captained her country to a first ever Grand Slam and Triple Crown along with maiden wins over both England and New Zealand and now an historic fourth place finish at the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Coghlan, an inspirational leader both on and off the pitch, has been a vital cog for the girls in green – particularly in recent years as they mounted consistent challenges for silverware.
Speaking to reporters after the 25-18 loss to France, she said: “Obviously today was a little bit emotional because it’s the last game, but once that whistle goes, it’s the last thing on your mind.
“It was emotional at the end and the girls were apologising to me [for the result].”
The Irish captain hailed the current squad as “an amazing bunch of girls”, agreeing that it was an amazing achievement to secure a top four finish albeit that “losing two games [at the business end of the tournament] isn’t how you want to finish”.
“We reached our goal of being in the top four. Obviously when you get to the top four, you want more. We didn’t quite get there but we reached our goals and we’re leaving the jersey and the ranking in a better place than coming into the competition.”
Sunday marked Coghlan’s 85th cap in the front row with the durable loosehead prop ending her career as Ireland’s second most-capped player behind her good friend Lynne Cantwell, the lynchpin centre who missed the play-off due to concussion.
The Dubliner added that the tournament shows how far Ireland have come in terms of competing at World Cup level, and is hopeful that the girls in green can build on what was achieved in France in the years to come.
“My first World Cup was in 2006 and I suppose we were lucky to finish eighth. The last World Cup we finished seventh. But in the last three years, we’ve moved the game on so much and we’re playing a type of rugby that is good to watch.
“The standard of the players coming into the game now is great, and to finish fourth for Ireland is a great place to be. It bodes well for the future.”

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