Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era

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Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 4

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– “Who wrote that book for you?” -“Who read it to you?!” Can Hendy translate athletic ability into a great career? He had the right example at the right time so he knows how it is done. Fulfilling that potential is the hard part.

We started the 5 Up Series nearly five years ago. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading

Ireland’s RWC 2015 Report Card Pt.2 – The Second Row

Paul O'Connell: hugely missed by the team against Argentina, the captain will be hugely missed by every Irish rugby fan when the Six Nations rolls around. It's not that I'm predicting we'll go to pot without him there, it'll just be really odd to go to Lansdowne Road with the knowledge that he won't ever be back on the pitch in green.

Paul O’Connell: hugely missed by the team against Argentina, the captain will be hugely missed by every Irish rugby fan when the Six Nations rolls around. It’s not that I’m predicting we’ll go to pot without him there, it’ll just be really odd to go to Lansdowne Road with the knowledge that he won’t ever be back on the pitch in green.

The row was a young man’s game in this tournament; the oldest of the starting locks at the semi-final stage was the 27 year old Whitelock, a player for whom The Mole has had a special regard ever since he was the only All Black not voted into the New Zealand Herald’s RWC11 ‘Team of the Tournament’ by the paper’s readership. The 38 year old Victor “Matlock” Matfield sought to scourge the young ‘uns from the bench as Ireland bid au revoir to one of its favourite sons. Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 3

Like many of his generation Conor Gilsenan headed to London for employment.

Like many of his generation Conor Gilsenan headed to London for employment.

We started the 5 Up Series three years ago. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 2

JJ Hanrahan was begun to assume the mantle of Munster's number 10, compiling a success rate from the tee of nearly 90% in the process

JJ Hanrahan has begun to assume the mantle of Munster’s number 10, compiling a success rate from the tee of nearly 90% in the process.

We started the 5 Up Series two years ago. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading

5 Up 2012 – Year 1

The First of the Class of 2012 to graduate to full honours, Hendo is likely to be in the middle of Ireland's forwards for the next decade

The First of the Class of 2012 to graduate to full honours, Hendo is likely to be in the middle of Ireland’s forwards for the next decade

The idea for the 5 Up series was taken from the Seven Up TV show. We were interested to see how aspiring professional players developed and what factors affected their progress. Five players were chosen: one from each of the provinces and a second, from Leinster, who would have another season at underage level the following year. Continue reading