Monday 24 October 2016

Coen eyes All-Ireland a hat-trick

Mayo’s Stephen Coen. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Mayo’s Stephen Coen. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Stephen Coen is hoping to complete the final leg of a remarkable All-Ireland journey this weekend.

Coen, still only 20, has already captained the Mayo minors and U21s to the national summit.

Now the biggest prize of all awaits on Sunday. "Ever since I was young, the lads in my age group in Mayo would have been very ambitious," he explains.

"We never got too low on defeat or too high on victory. When we won we were delighted, but we knew we weren't the finished article and we are always trying to do that. Every cup you win is grand - but you want to progress and move on."


Coen has made a happy habit of ending footballing famines - a positive augury as the seniors seek to end their 65-year jinx against Dublin on Sunday.

In 2013 he skippered Mayo to their first minor title in 28 years. He led the U21s to a pulsating All-Ireland, their first in a decade, via thrilling wins over Dublin and then Cork last April.

Two months earlier, he came off the bench to assist UCD's final drive to a first Sigerson Cup success in 20 years. (He salutes UCD captain Jack McCaffrey as a "brilliant guy, a brilliant leader".)

Back in early February, he played in another All-Ireland final, the intermediate club decider ... this one ended in rare defeat for the Hollymount/Carramore tyro.

At senior county level, Coen has already tasted one full house at Croker, entering the fray as a late sub as Dublin pulled away in last year's semi-final replay.

He started Mayo's first three outings this summer (against London, Galway and Fermanagh) but has been confined to a couple of substitute cameos since.

"There is a little bit of excitement," he says of the All-Ireland build-up, "but we've been here before. I suppose it's a testament to the work that the lads have done in the last few years that this is becoming a habit - so hopefully we can go one step further now."

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