Former Irish National Center Coach Charged With Sexual Exploitation of Children

An Irish swim coach who previously served on the National Training Center staff has been charged with sexual exploitation of children.

Matthew Coward, 31, was arrested by Gardaí (Irish police) and charged with sexual exploitation and making child sex abuse material on Thursday and was subsequently granted bail pending trial after appearing in Court.

Coward has been charged with 12 offenses under Ireland’s Child Trafficking and Pornography Act over a six-month period that allegedly occurred between September 2021 and February 2022.

He is accused of three counts of sexual exploitation of children, seven counts of producing child pornography, including videos, and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Coward was named to the Itish National Training Center staff in 2018-19, and was most recently tabbed to lead a new Swim Ireland program called “Project 28” in November 2021. The story that announced he was taking over this position has since been taken down, but is still archived on the web here. That program was “designed to provide an amplified coaching environment for Dublin-based athletes with 2028 prospects.”

Sergeant Shane Behan told the court he arrested Coward at his home on Thursday morning before bringing him to the Finglas Garda Station where he was charged.

Coward’s bail conditions include that he remain at his current residence, sign in twice a week at the Santry Garda Station and stay away from the location where the offenses allegedly took place, which is reportedly a pool in Dublin.

He is also restricted from contacting any of the witnesses in the case and was ordered to “refrain from engaging in any coaching roles”.

Coward was granted free legal aid and is scheduled to appear at Blanchardstown District Court on September 13.

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Jo So
1 month ago

Sadly this isn’t the first, and I feel like this won’t be the last. I think this is the genie coming out of the bottle and MANY more are coming.

More BIG questions need to be asked: why is the regime in place that let paedophilia and sex crimes take places in the 80’s/90’s/early 2000’s with no change of Roster?

Why isn’t Sarah Keane stepping down. She’s an absolute disgrace, she can say she knew nothing about this all she wants but here’s the facts:

a.) The AGM was scheduled the night of the press release of this incident so no investigative journalists could be there to ask Keane why he wasn’t properly vetted and why child protection… Read more »

Reply to  Jo So
1 month ago

They are a disgrace. Little wonder no athletes wish to train in Ireland, quick to claim the credit however. Between Sarah Keane + Jon Rudd it is a poisonous entity.

Are rumours of Jack McMillan and Daniel Wiffen becoming Uk athletes correct?

Reply to  SwimSider
1 month ago

Well Jack’s from a Protestant family. So it wouldn’t surprise me, he always told us he was British. Daniel’s family originally are from Cork, so that might be a shock?

Jo So
Reply to  SwimSider
1 month ago

Best director of Swimming we had was Keith Bewley. People who were given more power under Peter Banks always disagree. (COUGH LIMERICK PERFORMANCE CENTRE WAS A JOKE AND TOOK IN EVERYBODY IN LIMERICK CLUB OR THE MUNSTER SQUADl COUGH! LIMERICK HATED HIM.); Bewley wasn’t perfect, but he gave clubs what they needed and got shit done. He planted the roots. It was criminal how Sarah Keane treated him. And he was decent! Great coach back in Swansea too.

Jo So
Reply to  SwimSider
1 month ago

Probably? Jack’s talent and all I want to do is slap him and tell him how good he is.

Swim Ireland needs to go though. The only time it was somewhat decent was the Bewley Era. The Banks era is when a lot of good talent was overlooked for image and the Rudd Era is about finding Irish diaspora internationally.

Keane is quick to steal club credit and allocate it to the performance centre. She’s an embarrassment to the sport. And who can forget the man that got her that job, BEN KEALY OF WATERPOLO.

But seriously, the Olympic Council has Keane as head, she should be made to step down from Swim Ireland! As she has a… Read more »

Here we go again
Reply to  Jo So
1 month ago

I think that anyone here that is complaining about how it was better before, or how such a coach was better is COMPLETELY missing the point on this story.

Swim Ireland was born out of the abuse of children and the failure of it’s predecessor to deal properly with it. 
Some of the current leadership was put in place to deal with the fallout from that and ensure it didn’t happen again.

20 years on, Children are being exploited again, and this time by a coach employed directly by Swim Ireland, with the victims being on a Swim Ireland training program.

Instead of talking about what counties some swimmer may join, the questions people should be asking are:

Where… Read more »

Reply to  Here we go again
1 month ago

Serious questions needs to be raised regarding what safeguarding was in place and whether they were being implemented and followed. Kate hills also needs to questioned as she is head of safeguarding fro swim ireland.
Kate hills is only visible at National Meets until Friday, doesn’t work or make herself visible on weekends, apparently nothing is required by her on weekends

Sarah Keane needs to be question and the all mighty and powerful dr Rudd needs to be also, but I think he’s above questioning

Jo So
Reply to  Jd121
1 month ago

Another thing that needs to be questioned, why did Keane instead of immediately tackling the problem alongside Kate Hill, not try to rectify the problem, but instead spin a yarn around it and try to dilute it?

NornIron Swim
1 month ago

Hopefully some things have been learned from the shameful handling of the Gibney, Doyle, et al situations.

Jo So
Reply to  NornIron Swim
1 month ago

Be realistic. ….Keane will sweep this under the rug. Big Spinner.

maximum mchuge
1 month ago

Apt name

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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