Friday 28 July 2017

Hard yards paying off for rising star Timmins

Peadar Timmins scores a try for UCD Photo: Sportsfile
Peadar Timmins scores a try for UCD Photo: Sportsfile
Peadar Timmons on his way to scoring a try for Leinster A against Connacht Photo: Sportsfile
Peadar Timmons leaving the dressing rooms in Donnybrook ahead of Leinster’s B&I Cup clash with Rotherham Photo: Sportsfile

Marcus Ó Buachalla

With a week off from the travails of the British & Irish Cup and most recently the Guinness Pro12, Wicklow man Peadar Timmins could have been forgiven had he set his sights on some parts warmer and more foreign.

But instead he is to be found in Leinster HQ getting ready to coach in a local school and picking up his latest rugby boots order.

He's keeping the DHL man busy as he is through four pairs of boots since the start of the season already and the latest two pairs to arrive are a hideous shade of green, and a whiter than white pair "for training only", I am reliably informed.

"I train the lads in Sandford Park twice a week, it's myself and another lad Aaron O'Connor. He takes the backs and I take the forwards," says Timmins.

"It's all with a view to making them better players as at this age grade it's all about friendly matches and building their knowledge base so that they are better prepared for the Junior Cup next season. It's not without its challenges and controlling a group of 14-year-olds can be that but they're a great group."

While he is enjoying the coaching it has also benefited his own progress on the rugby fields for UCD in the AIL and Leinster.

Balance

"Last year I was working in Kiely's in Donnybrook and while they were very good to me, all that standing around in the evenings probably didn't help the training the next day, but that's gone now and I can enjoy the coaching and then focus on my rugby. It's a good balance."

That balance has certainly paid off for the second-year Academy back row. Timmins has captained Leinster 'A' to a home quarter-final spot in the B&I Cup and only last weekend he made his debut for the senior team against the Dragons in Rodney Parade.

"It's such a competitive environment that you never want to think too far ahead but of course you want to make those squads or even just to travel with the team or be part of an extended match-day squad to experience match day," he says.

"To come away though with nothing from the trip unfortunately overrides those emotions but in time I'm sure it will be one to treasure because there are no guarantees."

It was a miserable Friday but there were some smiling faces in the stands watching on despite the weather.

"I actually bumped into my aunt and uncle the morning of the game! They were over for Cheltenham for the weekend and they were staying in the same hotel as us," says Timmins. "I knew they were going over, but when we spoke about it a few weeks before I didn't think I'd be in the squad so I put it out of my head.

"But there we were on match day in the hotel lobby in Newport chatting away like we had just bumped into each walking down the street so I sorted them with a few tickets and they were there to watch me come on. It was great to have someone there from the family."

Timmins wasn't the only man to make his debut as fellow UCD man Jeremy Loughman also came on in the second half. Timmins and Loughman made it five Academy debuts this season for Leinster Rugby in addition to debuts for the likes of Tadhg Beirne, Tony Ryan and Royce Burke-Flynn.

For some like Burke-Flynn it comes later in their careers, for others like Loughman it happens in the first year with the Academy. There is no hard and fast rule it seems. But it has to be earned.

"We are all striving to get that jersey, even just once, and not everyone gets that opportunity," explains Timmins. "As professional sports people, part of the process is being ready.

"There is no point doing all that training to then let a chance slip by. So when you get the nod you need to be as prepared as you can be because it mightn't come again and there are people fighting for every jersey in here.

"So now that I have had a taste I would love to drive on again but we have to get the focus back on more immediate things as well like the AIL with UCD and the B&I Cup quarter-final against London Welsh. But there are a few Pro12 games in the mix as well so you'd never know."

I remind him that a lot has changed since we last spoke earlier in the season after a win in the interpros against the Ulster 'A' in Ballynahinch.

"Yeah it has. I suppose looking at it then we had our eyes firmly on the British & Irish Cup and using the interpros to develop and prepare for that," he says.

"We had good wins over Munster and Ulster but Connacht beat us and I think that was a great learning for us. They had some older more experienced players that day like George Naoupu so learning to deal with that level of experience was crucial ahead of the B&I Cup where you come up against big and experienced English and Welsh packs.

"Then it was all eyes on the B&I Cup and yes we'd like to be better and yes we think that we can be better but we have topped our pool unbeaten so we have to take some satisfaction from that.

Unstuck

"But that won't be worth much if we come unstuck against London Welsh in a few weeks in Donnybrook. They were in the English Premiership not so long ago and they'll fancy their chances."

Leading a team unbeaten through the pool is not to be sniffed at either and the responsibility is something that Timmins enjoys but that is also shared.

"I would have captained a bit in school when I was in Clongowes Wood College but really this is my first stint over a full campaign, a bit of a step into the unknown but you look around, there is a great mix of experience and youth," he says.

"All very capable players and all well able to lead the line and drive things. I see myself as just facilitating it but I think we are all working in tandem and working to the plan that Hugh (Hogan) and Shaun (Beirne) have laid out for us.

"We all get on well too - like I was in school with the Byrne twins so there are all those connections too going way back. It's a close, tight-knit bunch of lads. We've plenty of work to do but we're enjoying the journey as well."

Irish Independent

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