Irish training camp call up big vote of confidence in young O’Halloran

Date Published: {J}

Dara Bradley

THE Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has identified a Connemara native as an emerging talent that has the potential to light up the international stage playing for his country.

Connacht Rugby’s rising star, winger Tiernan O’Halloran, has been hand-picked by Ireland coach Declan Kidney as one of six up-and-coming youngsters that has the potential to form the backbone of the nation’s 2015 World Cup squad.

Kidney included the 20-years-old Clifden man in a sextet of young promising players with future potential who will join the 22-man Ireland senior squad for a week’s training camp in Limerick.

Kidney made the announcement at lunchtime Wednesday when the provisional 24-man Ireland senior squad was named as preparations for the 2012 RBS Six Nations Championship begin.

O’Halloran and the other five young stars – Ulster’s Paddy McAllister, Leinster’s Andrew Conway and Ian Nagle, Simon Zebo and Peter O’Mahony of Munster – will join Ireland captain, Paul O’Connell and the rest of the senior squad for a week-long training camp, which starts this coming Monday.

Kidney is giving O’Halloran and the five others a taste of the senior training regime with a view to ‘grooming’ them and honing their talents in the hope that they can make the breakthrough to the senior ranks in the coming years, with one eye on the 2015 World Cup in England.

It is a meteoric rise for the former Connacht Academy and Cistercian College schoolboy, who only made his senior Connacht debut in the 2009/2010 season, and who recently signed a contract that commits him to the Sportsground for the next two seasons.

During the press conference to announce the new deal Connacht Coach Eric Elwood commented that an injury last year almost put-paid to O’Halloran’s rugby career but hard-work and perseverance from himself and the club’s medical team transformed his fortunes and saw him making the number 11 jersey his own this season. He has represented Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 level including in last summer’s U20 World Cup in Italy.

Another rising star that has impressed at Connacht this season is Eoin Griffin of Barna, although Kidney said the out-side centre was not considered for selection because of a hamstring injury.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.