Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
WHEN it comes to supporting a professional sports team, you’re always looking to greener fields and wondering who will be the next big signing? In Connacht Rugby’s case, those may have been few and far between, although they have made notable additions over the years in the likes of Dan Parks and Bundee Aki.
Connacht forwards coach Jimmy Duffy, though, offers a very different viewpoint and it is an admirable one. He argues that the province does not always need to look outside because, quite often, those same resources can just as easily be harnessed from within.
It is not that he is against bringing in big name signings either, he just says sometimes a leap of faith in a home-grown player can be just as rewarding.
“We have a very talented pool of indigenous players and the guys who have come in have really added value as well. You take the likes of Dave Heffernan (Ballina) and Denis Buckley (Roscommon), they are very strong rugby players and all very good in their own right.
“So, we feel a lot of those guys have the ability to kick on, which some of them already have, and I think what this has done has given every young player something to aspire to in the province,” he says.
No doubt, Connacht have proven to be masters in marketing the game and this work, to their credit, was being done long before captain and Portumna man John Muldoon lifted the PRO12 trophy on a very memorable day back in May 2016.
To have one of the county’s and province’s own lead Connacht to a famous victory over a star-studded Leinster that day has been gold dust in selling rugby to young fellows in the West of Ireland, but Duffy also argues that this just goes to show the local talent is there to backbone a squad that can compete at the highest level in club rugby.
“You can see that over the last number of years, with the national team being very successful and the provinces being very successful. It is like anything else though. Success breeds success but you do also have to evolve to make sure you are then keeping up with everybody else.
“So, I think between players and coaches, there are very good people in the game (in Ireland). Very talented people who have a lot to offer and I am quite encouraged by it. It is an exciting time for Irish rugby.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.