independent

Thursday 22 February 2018

Tadhg's top world billing

Furlong ranked among the leading exponents of rugby

Tadhg Furlong in the thick of things against Ulster on Saturday
Tadhg Furlong in the thick of things against Ulster on Saturday

Brendan Furlong

The relentless push of Wexford rugby players to reach the pinnacle of their game is continuing.

Last week Tadhg Furlong was the only Irish player included in the announcement of the world's top ten players. As a result of this latest list, the former New Ross player is now reputed to be the world's number one tight head prop.

However, it turned out to be a mixed week for the player, who started for Leinster in their 38-7 victory over Ulster in the PRO14 league game on Saturday in the RDS Arena.

Having turned in a tremendous opening 40 minutes, he was forced to retire at the interval having failed a head injury assessement. During the game he also suffered an arm injury but managed to continue to the break.

Now Furlong is rated a huge doubt for Sunday's European clash with Glasgow at the RDS Arena. He will be put through the concussion protocols, with a decision on his fitness being announced later in the week.

Irish manager Joe Schmidt will also be anxiously awaiting reports, as Furlong has become a key players for Ireland, particularly with the Six Nations championship on the horizon.

It was a big night for Wexford in the RDS since Furlong was joined in the pack by Enniscorthy's Josh Murphy. The tall number 6, who has emerged through the academy, played the full 80 minutes in what was a workmanlike and impressive display in a back row where the competition for places is intense.

Given the manner in which Leinster dominated the local derbies, with three victories over Christmas and the new year, it says much for the progress of Murphy that he has forced his way into Leo Cullen's thinking, particularly with so much young talent now at the disposal of the coach.

Later on Saturday evening, Thomond Park also saw a huge breakthrough for another Wexford player, when Gorey's Paul Boyle made his full debut for Connacht.

Boyle was introduced as a 57th-minute replacement for captain John Muldoon. A former Gorey player, he has been making rapid progress since joining the province, and while he will be disappointed at his side's 39-13 loss to Munster, he will be well satisfied with his display through the final half hour.

It's a huge breakthrough for Boyle who has played Gaelic football for Castletown, while last year he captained Ireland's Under-20 World Cup team.

Wexford ladies have also been recognised with both Katie Fitzhenry and Jeamie Deacon included in the Irish squad to begin preparations for the forthcoming Six Nations championship. Both players figured in Ireland's World Cup squad last year, while Fitzhenry has also been involved with the Irish sevens outfit.

Meanwhile, in domestic club news, Enniscorthy's match with Boyne in the Leinster League Division 1A was postponed on Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch.

They were giving an extra incentive when the leaders, Ashbourne, were beaten by Dundalk at home 15-12 to make it a logjam at the top of the table.

Ashbourne still lead on 36 points with Dundalk now in second position on 34, followed by Enniscorthy on 33 with that game in hand which will be played at a later date.

Enniscorthy are at home to Wicklow on Saturday with the kick-off at 2.30 p.m.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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