Ireland U20s have defeated Six Nations Grand Slam winners, Wales by 26-25 in their opening match of the Rugby World Cup. Nigel Carolan’s side prevailed, recovering from a 17-point deficit!
We were due to travel to Manchester for the World Cup, but unfortunately Conán is injured. It’s fantastic to see the other 2 Sligo lads representing Sligo RFC and Connacht Rugby in this year’s World Cup. Read my interview with the trio of Sligo RFC youngsters if you missed it in Sligo Sport. Here’s how the publication looked:
Ireland U20s finished their Six Nations campaign with a third consecutive win to end the championship in third place. It’s been said that ‘there’s something in the water in Sligo’ with three of the starting fifteen hailing from Sligo’s Summerhill College. I caught up with the trio of promising Sligo RFC youngsters following their most recent campaign to find out more.
Club: Sligo RFC
Position: Scrum Half
Ireland caps: 4
Day job: Student
Snapchat handle: Kerins123
How did you get into rugby? I started playing when I was around 7 out in Sligo RFC. I enjoyed the game but wasn’t very fond of the Strandhill cold and windy climate back then.
Have you played in various positions? Everywhere in the backs and for an experimental phase at flanker – not really sure why it didn’t work out there.
What made you start taking rugby seriously? I think at the end of my Leaving Cert year I began to take rugby seriously. As I played soccer and gaelic also, I made the decision on which one I wanted to pursue and thankfully I think I made the right decision.
Who’ve been your biggest coaching influences? I think my coaches throughout my youth development in Sligo RFC and Summerhill have been so influential as they are still around me now with the Sligo RFC Senior Team: John Davey, Ross Mannion and Gavin Foley. I also think I wouldn’t have been even close to selection if it wasn’t for the help of Mossy Lawler our Elite Development Officer in Connacht Rugby.
Do you have a hero/role model? Peter Stringer. He has always been my favourite player since I first started watching rugby and as he has signed a new contract again with Bath at the age of 38 it just shows how highly they rate him at Bath.
How does it feel to represent your country alongside your former classmates? Starting and beating England was amazing, as the three of us have probably been thinking about it in our heads and on green areas outside our houses since we where young. It’s a memory which will never be forgotten as it was so unexpected, but it makes it sweeter when we can enjoy it together and hopefully with more opportunities to come.
What’s your most memorable moment in rugby (to date)? Getting to the All Ireland Final with Sligo RFC U17s
Have you had any (major/minor) setbacks? Yes I was injured for all last season and didn’t really know if I was going to be able to play rugby this year.
Are you still studying? Yes, I am studying Business Information Systems in GMIT.
What next? What are your aims now? At the moment I will be concentrating on college and hopefully get an Academy contract with Connacht.
What’s the dream? To become a professional rugby player whilst having my own business.
Can you share some inside jokes/gossip/pranks from camp? Other than James Bollard being the “loosest man in Dublin” I’m not really sure he gets the slagging for his poor D4 “banter” along with his knowledge of nothing outside Foxrock.
Who’s the biggest messer? Shane Daly
Who takes longest in the shower? I’m normally last in the shower.
Who has the most annoying laugh? Conán, but I guess we’re used to it at this stage.
Who eats most? Andrew Porter – it’s like a conveyor belt.
Who has the worst taste in music? Peter Claffey, although he has some good music he could play you something like the “Green Berets” a song from the Vietnam War.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? Peter Claffey as he would devise some mad plan on how to get out from all the weird war videos he has watched.
What superpower would you like to have? Flying, I wouldn’t have to go to the airport for games and would be able to be in more places in less time.
What’s your guilty pleasure? O’Donnell’s crisps or a Magnum.
Tell us something we don’t know about Cillian and Conán: Cillian knows every rugby player’s weight and height in Connacht and Conán broke the handle off the All Ireland Club GAA Championship Trophy.
Do you have a nickname for Conán or Cillian? Why? Conán’s is ‘The Slug’ due to hard work in the gym and Cillian’s is ‘Crouchy’ due to the height and his resemblance to the famous footballer Peter Crouch.
Any hidden talents? I’m not a bad at golfing.
What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? I bought a second Xbox for no reason at all and regretted it instantly. I just thought it was a good deal.
Any advice to budding rugby players? Keep doing your extras after training to work on things you can improve.
Motto you live by: ‘It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.’ (Mark Twain”).
Image by Catherine Toolan
Club: Sligo RFC
Position: Second Row/Backow
Height: 6’6’’ (1.97m)
Ireland caps: 5 (U20) 2 (Schools)
Day job: Day what?
Snapchat handle: cillian_crouchy
When did you first start playing rugby? I started playing rugby aged 13 after doing a few training sessions out at Sligo RFC.
Have you played in various positions?Yes, I’ve played second row and all across the back row over the years.
What made you start taking rugby seriously? Once Conán got selected for U18 Schools two years ago; He was the first one of us to show that it was possible to be successful on a national and international level – even if you are from Sligo!
Who’ve been your biggest coaching influences? Micky O’Hehir, John Davey and Jimmy Duffy.
What inspires you? The fact that 3 lads from Sligo can perform on an international stage is inspiration in itself!
Do you have a hero? Loads! David Pocock, Paul O’Connell, Arnold Schwarzenegger….the list goes on!
How does it feel to represent your country, putting Sligo on the map?
It’s a surreal feeling if I’m honest to have 20% of the starting team coming from a little club in the west, and the fact that all of us were in Summerhill makes the feeling even sweeter!
What’s your most memorable moment in rugby (to date)? Beating England in Newcastle during the 6 nations. It was my first time playing against England and to win the way we did after being behind by so much puts it at the top of my list of rugby memories.
Have you had any (major/minor) setbacks? I’ve had loads of injuries over the years, particularly last year, but the key is to not lose motivation and stay focused on your goal.
Are you still studying? I’m currently studying for a degree in Strength and Conditioning from Setanta College.
What next? What are your aims now? Win the Junior World Championship in June. I’m also underage for U20’s next year so I still have a bone to pick as far as the 6 nations are concerned.
What’s the dream? Play rugby at the highest possible level, win everything there is to win, be happy!
Can you share some inside jokes or gossip from camp? Too much to share but make sure you give @peter_claff_fitness a follow on Instagram.
Who’s the worst dressed in camp? Peter Claffey, but he’s improving!
Who’s the biggest messer? Kelvin Brown.
Who takes longest in the shower? Brett Connon.
Who has the most annoying laugh? Conán, of course!
Who eats most? There’s a few that eat a lot, most of whom come from Connacht!
Who has the worst taste in music? Shane Daly.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? James Ryan.
What superpower would you like to have? Just be Deadpool!
What’s your guilty pleasure? Pancakes.
Tell us something we don’t know about you: I’m actually a nice person!
Do you have a nickname for Stephen or Conán? Why? Stephen is ‘Horse’ – he’s obsessed with all things horse! Conán is ‘Beauty’ – sure would you take a look at him!
Any hidden talents? Rubik’s Cube master!
What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? An outrageous amount of Domino’s pizza… so worth it though!
Any advice to budding rugby players? Keep your head down and keep working hard, then good things will happen!
Club: Sligo RFC
Ireland caps: 15 U20s, 5 U18s
When did you first start playing rugby? I started with Sligo when I was about 6 or 7.
Have you played in various positions? Yes, wing and hooker and back row.
What made you start taking rugby seriously? Probably when I was first introduced into the Connacht set up and U15s.
Who’ve been your biggest coaching influences? There are way too many to name.
Who inspires you? My family.
Do you have a hero/role model? Sean Henry.
How does it feel to represent your country, playing alongside your former classmates and putting Sligo on the map? It’s a honour. Having Sligo and Summerhill fans at the games getting behind our backs makes it even more special.
What’s your most memorable moment in rugby (to date)? Beating England away in this year’s 6 Nations.
Have you had any (major/minor) setbacks? I got glandular fever (the glange) last year. That was a minor setback for me!
Are you still studying? Yes, I’m studying Commerce in NUIG.
What next? What are your aims now? Hopefully be selected for the Junior World Cup in June.
What’s the dream? To become a professional rugby player.
Would you say you’re religious? Yes, very. I wear rosary beads and pray before games.
Who’s the worst dressed in camp? Peter Claffey.
Who’s the biggest messer? Peter Claffey. He does the best impressions.
Who takes longest in the shower? Steve Kerins.
Who has the most annoying laugh? Not me.
Who eats most? PORTER.
Who has the worst taste in music? Ben Betts.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? Shane Daly. Definitely Shane Daly!
What superpower would you like to have? Super speed.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Ice-cream at the moment – Ben&Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Tell us something we don’t know about you: I’m fluent in Irish and I’m an amazing singer.
Do you have a nickname for Stephen or Cillian? Steve’s is ‘Horsie’ and Cillian’s is ‘Crouchy’ after Peter Crouch.
Any hidden talents? I’m a good cook and if cleaning is a talent, I guess you could say that!
What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought? A Hoverboard or a toy car in the last 3 months.
Any advice to budding rugby players? Work hard, believe, pray and listen to your coaches.
Motto you live by: ‘Eat, Sleep, GAA, repeat.’
Wishing the lads the very best in this year’s Rugby World Cup! (Find out more here).
Thanks for reading,