For the previous hour or two his London team, the first to represent the capital of Great Britain in championship football at GAA headquarters, had also looked comfortable in the environment and for a time their outlandish summer odyssey was going to be taken to ridiculous levels.
They turned around level having played against the fresh breeze and with both sides bunching around the middle and little pattern to the play, notions of London making the All-Ireland quarter-finals began to emerge.
In the end, the exertions of the summer took their toll and a youthful Cavan side got a firm grip on the game after the restart. While they did not go out of sight until late on, Terry Hyland’s men looked good for victory from early in the second-half.
“If we had taken our scores a little better in the second half we could have been in a different position,” said Coggins.
“The lads gave their best, that’s for sure. There are no regrets. Well it’s been a great summer. We’ve made great strides, probably more strides than even we felt.
“I think the lads played superbly after a six-day turnaround. It was a superb performance and we have got to move on from it and look to the future.”
Cavan manager Terry Hyland said that winning a game in Croke Park — the county’s first championship win at headquarters since they beat Meath in the 1952 All-Ireland final — was a big boost to his emerging side.
“We probably got a wee bit nervy. In fairness, the lads haven’t been here before and it was one of those occasions where everybody expected us to win and that probably weighted a little bit on us,” said Hyland.
“We made some uncharacteristic errors in that period, but we got through it until half time without slipping too much behind and went level and that’s what we wanted.
“We had a good frank discussion at half time and we felt that it was well within the first starting 15 and that’s what we started with again. We said ‘lads you have got to go out and sort this problem out yourself’ and that’s what they did.”
London were boosted by the opening point from Cathal Magee after four minutes but they found themselves 0-6 to 0-1 adrift after 15 minutes and Cavan would surely have the game wrapped up had London goalkeeper Declan Traynor not done well to deny Jack Brady a goal.
Instead, the opening goal came at the other end when Paul Geraghty, always a threat when operating at full-forward, got a fist to a cross from Greg Crowley to send it to the net after 19 minutes.
Martin Dunne responded with his fifth point to make it 0-7 to 1-2 after 21 minutes but London were growing in confidence and two points in succession from Ciarán McCallion and one from Geraghty saw the exiles go ahead.
Tomas Corr responded with a couple of points after good running by Cavan but Lorcan Mulvey got his second free against his native county to send them in level at 0-9 to 1-6 and the prospect of another shock in this crazy summer was on.
“We felt good,” said Coggins about the atmosphere in his dressing room at the break. “We talked about doing the same things we were doing in the first-half. We got a few chances in the first 10 minutes of the second half and we didn’t take them which would have put them under more pressure.”
But it was Cavan who seized the moment. Cian Mackey got a superb point after 41 minutes and Eugene Keating added another. David Givney took over around the middle of the field and was full of running, surging forward to pick off three excellent points.
London then ran out of steam. Mulvey kicked a free but Feargal Flanagan and Givney hit the range for Cavan. Caolan Doyle responded for London after 53 minutes but that was to be the last score of their great summer adventure, although Magee rattled the woodwork and Damien Dunleavy forced Alan O’Hara into a good save.
There was just a goal between them 10 minutes from the end but Cavan pulled away with Niall McDermott wrapping it up with a late goal after combining with Mackey.
Both teams were applauded off the field — the second time in six days London have experienced that.
“You couldn’t ask for it to end in a nicer place or a better place than the home of our football. We are happy with that,” added Coggins as he left the summer stage.
Scorers for Cavan: M Dunne (0-6, 4fs), D Givney (0-3), N McDermott (1-0), F Flanagan, T Corr, E Keating (1f) (0-2 each), C Mackey, M Reilly (0-1, 45).
Scorers for London: P Geraghty (1-1), L Mulvey (0-3fs), C McCallion (0-2), C Doyle, C Magee (0-1 each).
CAVAN: A O’Mara; J McEnroe, R Dunne, K Clarke; A Clarke, D O’Reilly, F Flanagan; T Corr, D Givney; C Mackey, J Brady, F Flanagan; M Reilly, M Dunne, E Keating.
Subs for Cavan: D McVitty for McEnroe (47), J McLoughlin for Corr (58), N McDermott for Brady (61), K Brady for Flanagan (65), M McKeever for Mackey (69).
LONDON: D Traynor; S Curran, D McGreeby, P Butler; S Hannon, S Mulligan, C Óg Greene; C Doyle, P Geraghty; C McCallion, D Dunleavy, G Crowley; T Gaughan, L Mulvey, C Magee.
Subs for London: D O’Neill for Hannon (43), S Kelly for McCallion (43), C Daly for Crowley (46), B Collins for Butler (50), E O’Neill for Doyle (58).