Mayo footballer Stephen Coen.

Mayo footballer Stephen Coen.

Stephen Coen: 'You play wherever you get a chance'

By Cian O'Connell

Stephen Coen relishes the life of an inter-county football. The travel and training are just part and parcel of playing for Mayo.

It can be demanding, but Coen is delighted to be involved. A fourth year Agricultural Science student at UCD, Coen lives with Conor McCarthy (Monaghan), Barry O'Sullivan (Kerry), and James Meagher (Kilkenny).

All emerging sportsmen in their respective codes, O'Sullivan, the promising Kerry youngster, even won an All Ireland Under 21 B hurling title last Saturday.

Coen isn't too stressed about commuting from the capital to represent Mayo. “For me, personally, from January to May I have to travel up and down," Coen says. "Now, I’m in college so recovery is a lot easier for me.

"In UCD you have a gym and a pool right on your doorstep so it is very easy for me to recover the next day after training. But I suppose for the guys working it must be very difficult.

"They still have to get the work done while they’re training. At the same time, we have good craic coming up and down so it’s not too bad."

Will Coen have to consider moving back to Mayo full-time when his studies are finished to assist his football career?

“That’s something I’ll have to consider, but I suppose I’ll have to consider my studies as well and whether I want to advance my education," Coen admits.

"That’s important too, not just football. Look, we don’t have to do this. We don’t have to play for Mayo if we don’t want to, but we all want to and if that’s what it takes that’s what we’ll do."

That type of unfussy attitude is what the versatile Coen seeks to bring into every game. Coen has been pressed into service in a string of different roles and was afforded the task of marking Dublin's Diarmuid Connolly in last year's All Ireland SFC Final replay.

“It’s just how it is," Coen states. "We train to deal with any situation really because you could be earmarked to play someone, you could be midfield or you could be at full-back.

"It’s the same when you’re a substitute. There are one of nine fellas that you could come and mark so you just have to trust your instinct because these games take on a life of their own and you just have to deal with it. It’s grand, I enjoy it."

Coen will try to carry out whatever instructions are given to him by Stephen Rochford. He has played in various lines of the field during his three years on the Mayo panel.

"Yeah, I have, it works for me and it works against me at times," Coen remarks. "Just whatever Stephen says I will go with, you have no other choice really because he is the boss. You are lucky enough to play for Mayo so you play wherever you get a chance."

Facing standard bearers Dublin is a daunting challenge, but one that Mayo always embrace. "Both teams have gone head to head the last three years in a row, in big, big games," Coen adds.

"They are well used to big performances and big build up. It is important that supporters and families and clubs enjoy the build up. It is important we enjoy it too, but we are just going to focus on our own performance."

Coen featured on UCD's Sigerson Cup panel alongside Jack McCaffrey and Michael Fitzsimons, while Con O'Callaghan missed out due to AIB All Ireland club commitments with Cuala.

"It is always good craic, I go to college with Con, Jack McCaffrey, and Michael Fitzsimons and these boys," Coen says.

"We have good craic, but will respect each other's privacy the week before the game to see where it goes after that."

The weeks after promise to be interesting. Who will be celebrating? Mayo or Dublin?