© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

The Irish footballer making waves in Christchurch

Sam Coughlan
Garbhan Coughlan
Garbhan Coughlan in front of the Cashmere Tech changing rooms  Sam Coughlan

Garbhan Coughlan uprooted his life to New Zealand just to play football.

The number of European footballers dominating their competitions is numerous.

From Marcus Rashford in the Premier League to Karim Benzema in La Liga and even Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League, the list goes on.

But in New Zealand’s own Southern League lies one of the most dominant.

Garbhan Coughlan was born and raised in the Republic of Ireland and throughout his university years was a regular in the second division with Limerick FC and Athlone Town.

But in 2017 he decided to uproot his life and move to New Zealand, in hopes of greater financial security.

“Contracts only ran for 42 weeks a year, which was good finishing school and through uni.

“But trying to make your way in the world, it's difficult to get a mortgage if you’re only on that type of contract.”

Coughlan was recruited by a coach in Dunedin who persuaded him to live there and play for local side Southern FC, and he loved it.

“I lived by the beach – one street back from St Clair – so having that on the doorstep was really nice.

“Working in football was obviously something that I like doing so when I got the opportunity to do it was an easy decision to make.”

Coughlan in action against FC Twenty Mitchell Cozzone

In 2019 Coughlan moved up to Christchurch to take on a Director of Football role with perennial champions Cashmere Technical, and he hasn’t looked back.

“I think it took me nearly a year to lose a game for Tech… it’s been really good.

“When I first came over, I didn’t know much about the league, and in my first game I didn’t score and was thinking this might be tougher than I thought.”

As it turns out, goalscoring has come easily for the former professional who managed to score two goals in Ireland’s Premier Division – the top level in the country.

Coughlan has scored 41 goals in just 33 games for Technical in the last two years – including six in two games to start the 2023 season.

He says they’re aiming to one better than their second-place finish in the Southern League last season.

“We didn’t succeed the way we wanted to, so it’s important we rectify that this year.

Coughlan scores one of his four goals against FC Twenty Mitchell Cozzone

As Director of Football at Technical, Coughlan coaches the club’s youth academy teams. He loves seeing players he’s coached break into the first team.

“You see the players I’ve coached over the last couple of years now making their way into the first team… 16/17-year-olds that I’ve known since they were 13.

“You really feel like you have an impact on their football.

“The most rewarding is the 8, 9, 10-year-olds who just love football and listen to you no matter what, they just want to play.”

While Coughlan has been an integral part of their recent success, he says it’s down to the team.

“We stick to our principles, which haven’t really changed throughout the years.

“It’s the same group of players, it’s the same style of play, even though the coaching staff has changed it’s the same principles.”

Coughlan and Cashmere Technical will take on Nomads United on Friday afternoon, looking to continue their winning run.

Garbhan Coughlan's interview