His was the voice of Five Nations Saturdays, always filling the sitting room with Ireland’s springtime feats, whether good or bad. The voice you imitated as you leapt from the couch to replicate tries in the back garden…’and Ireland are over!’…
When ‘Six’ were ‘Five’ in the Championship, the familiar and distinctive tones of Fred Cogley provided the soundtrack to many of our childhood rugby memories. The vanished era of ill-fitting jerseys, four points for a try, mullets, moustaches, the schoolboy terrace, the amateur heydays, the Lansdowne roar and the rumble of the Dart under the old West Stand. And Fred, reliable Fred conveying it all from his commentary perch.
Depending on the broadcast feed from foreign shores, he often sounded like he was coming from under the floorboards – particularly in Paris. Sharp, knowledgeable and succinct, many of Fred’s best commentaries neatly framed a score, rising in and decibel level and tempo with the whitewash in sight, and also allowing the pictures speak for themselves…
‘Coming back to Kelly, linking up with Gibson, racing up…A BEAUTIFUL DUMMY! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DUMMY! 10 yards inside England’s half…to Walsh, Walsh running up to the 25, gives it to Casey…CASEY’S OVER UNDER THE POSTS! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TRY! This indeed was a magnificent try!’
– Putting words to debutant Mike Gibson’s superb break from his own half and Pat Casey’s memorable Twickenham try, 1964
‘And this has to be it. Ireland have it, Moloney to McGann, Flynn – HE’S THROUGH…FLYNN IS IN! KEVIN FLYNN HAS SCORED…IRELAND HAVE WON!’
– Describing Kevin Flynn’s brilliant match-winning try off a scrum ball against England at Twickenham, 1972
‘The crowd clapping Ireland’s obvious intent to do something like a run, but, ah, it’s going to be Campbell, the drop at goal…it’s blocked! Ireland try to regroup and gather. Fitzgerald…THIS IS CAMPBELL! INTO THE 22! In to Duggan, back to Campbell, back to Duggan, MCLOUGHLIN…GOING FOR THAT LINE…AND IRELAND ARE IN AND OVER! And the referee gives the try! GERRY MCLOUGHLIN…WHAT A GREAT BURST BY IRELAND! Gerry McLoughlin is delirious!’
– On that unforgettable moment when a well-supported Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin crashed over the try-line at Twickenham, 1982
‘…Campbell, it’s curling and IT’S OVER! Ollie Campbell has set all sorts of records. He has now scored more points in one match for Ireland than anyone else in history. All 21 points…THE WHISTLE IS GONE! Ireland have won the Triple Crown after 33 years. The crowd invade the pitch…’
– The defining moments of Ireland’s Triple Crown-clinching win over Scotland at Lansdowne Road, 1982
‘Spillane barges up to the 22…Ireland want this one and feed it back…Dean holds it well, Kiernan, Dean again, Dean to Mullin, Mullin to MacNeill, MacNeill to Ringland…(MAC)RINGLAND’S IN! MAGIC!’
– On Ireland’s superb try scored near the right corner by Trevor Ringland against Scotland at Murrayfield, 1985
‘Now Bradley, now Dean, now Mullin, now MacNeill…NOW CROSSAN! GGGGREAT TRY BY IRELAND! Keith Crossan…his first try for Ireland…and the Irish backs were brilliant…’
– Relaying the brilliance of an Irish back-line move that conjured up Keith Crossan’s first international try at the Arms Park in Cardiff, 1985
‘Spillane holds beautifully. In go the Irish forwards – THIS IS LENIHAN! BURSTING INTO THE 22! Back to Bradley, back to KIERNAN…the drop at goal…IS OVER! MICHAEL KIERNAN HAS DONE IT! MICHAEL KIERNAN PUTS IRELAND IN FRONT!’
‘The whistle’s gone, IRELAND HAVE DONE IT! 13 points to 10, Ireland have won the Triple Crown. Michael Kiernan is the hero…there are fifteen heroes out there. And quite honestly, words fail me just at the moment. Sit back and enjoy it…’
– On the dramatic scenes at Lansdowne Road as Michael Kiernan boots Ireland to Triple Crown glory in 1985
‘…Bleddyn Bowen’s kick is blocked down and collected by Noel Mannion…up to halfway…chasing is Bryant, Bryant is catching him…Noel Mannion into the 22, will he make it?!! NOEL MANNION SCORES! WHAT A BRILLIANT TRY FROM NOEL MANNION! The Corinthians man will remember that for the rest of his life…’
– Describing Noel Mannion’s epic lung-bursting try up the right touchline against Wales at the Arms Park, 1989
The Cogley family are sports lovers through and through. Fred’s father Mitchel was sports editor of the Irish Independent and Fred’s son Niall, currently with TV3 as Broadcast Director, was previously RTE Head of Sport and co-founder and CEO of Setanta Sports.
Fred’s lifelong love of rugby was fostered at St. Mary’s College in Rathmines, and he went on to gain Leinster Schools honours in both rugby and cricket. He first dipped his toes into the world of broadcasting with Radio Éireann in 1950, at the tender age of 16.
A noted all-rounder both on and off the field, his journalism career took off as a sports sub-editor at the Evening Herald and Irish Times, and on joining RTE, he quickly took to broadcasting on both TV and radio while also continuing to contribute as a freelancer to a number of newspapers.
Cogley succeeded Michael O’Hehir as RTE Head of Sport in 1972, at the age of 38, and held the position for 27 years during a key time in the development of the Sports department at Montrose. His enviable ability to cover a myriad of sports – whether in the studio of ‘Sport in Action’ or the long-running and much-loved ‘Sports Stadium’, or out and about (in his sheepskin coat!) for domestic and international events – made him a very safe pair of hands on screen.
Fred Cogley’s ‘Yearbook of Irish Rugby’ was also a popular purchase among followers of the game, detailing club action up to Test match fare. Away from sport, he was a sought-after compere and master of ceremonies, his wide range of activities including judging the Miss Midleton 1968 contest, presenting the 1977 National Equestrian Committee Golden Saddle awards, and becoming the first chairman of the Irish Tug of War Association.
Fred covered a staggering 11 Olympic Games, 12 World Cups and 49 rugby seasons for RTE, and continued his interest and passion for the game in latter years as a spectator and also by commentating on the 2007 Rugby World Cup and Leinster Schools Cup matches for Setanta. He was a gentleman to deal with over the years, who offered great encouragement to young sportspeople and journalists, and a true great of Irish sports broadcasting.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Fred’s family and his many friends and colleagues at this sad time.
COGLEY, Fred, (Terenure, Dublin) June 14, 2017, peacefully at St. James’ Hospital, surrounded by his family; treasured husband and best friend of Madeleine, beloved and loving Dad and friend to David, Niall, Michelle and Denise, adored Papa of Clodagh, Daragh, Katie, Róisín, Elaine, Eva and Jena. Deeply regretted by his brothers-in-law Cyril and Harry, sisters-in-law Joan, Eithne and Lil, daughters-in-law Gabrielle and Janet, son-in-law Rob, nieces, nephews, relatives and many friends.
Removal on Saturday morning to St. Joseph’s Church, Terenure to arrive for Funeral Mass at 12 noon and then to Kilmashogue Cemetery, Edmondstown Road, Rathfarnham. Family flowers only. Donations, in lieu of flowers, to the Peter McVerry Trust.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.