Gifted youngster played school rugby with Jackson and joined him in the Irish set-up
Born in the seaside village of Bangor, Craig Gilroy was a gifted all-rounder in his youth before eventually immersing himself in rugby at Methody College.
The middle child of five, Gilroy was born on March 11, 1991. Parents Noel and Lorna encouraged him to play all sports. He played Gaelic football for St Pauls in nearby Holywood and won an East Down U-16B in 2004, scoring a crucial goal. Some observers felt he had a future as a ball-winning midfielder.
He also played soccer for Holywood Boys and Bangor Swifts.
However, his sporting allegiance would switch from round ball to oval after moving to Belfast, where he embarked on a successful schools' career which would ultimately provide a pathway into the professional game. He was a grade off achieving his GCSEs so went to Belfast Royal Academy for a short period before being re-admitted to Methody, where he would win a second Senior Cup medal in his final year in a team featuring Paddy Jackson.
Bangor coach Justin Fitzpatrick drafted him to Dungannon and he swiftly advanced there, via the All-Ireland League, his free scoring attracting the attention of the Ulster Rugby Academy, which he joined in 2010. That summer, he scored the first try in the revamped Aviva Stadium during a representative game featuring two combined provincial sides.
A senior Ulster debut swiftly followed in November against Cardiff, in which he scored twice and won the man of the match award.
By 2012, he was an Irish international. His first full cap came with a try-scoring appearance against Argentina.
A regular in the 2013 Six Nations, Gilroy struggled to maintain a consistent place in Irish squads and has won only five caps since 2014.
His last appearance for Ireland saw him score a hat-trick against Italy in the opening game of the 2017 Six Nations.