Wednesday 17 January 2018

Hanrahan to join pantheon of Currow immortals

Sean Diffley

Currow is a village just outside Castleisland in Kerry and in terms of extraordinary production in a tiny environment, it would rival the diamond extractions in Kimberley.

Not that there are any jewels in Currow. The fame there, and in a sense their fortune, is sport -- to an phenomenal degree.

Does any village, anywhere, challenge Currow? An insignificant landscape, but take a look at their CV.

There is Moss Keane, Mick Galwey, Mick and Tom Doyle, all residents of Currow in their youth. All are Irish international rugby celebrities, with Keane, Galwey and Mick Doyle also noted Lions performers.

They played locally with Castleisland -- and the chronicler of their weekend activities was Currow native Con Houlihan who, legend has it, played rugby in his bare feet.

And why consult the archives and Currow on this Heineken Cup weekend?

The answer is that the village's role of honour has not shrivelled to a halt because introduced to the Munster match-day squad to face Edinburgh tomorrow is Currow lad JJ Hanrahan, a 20-year-old out-half of obvious quality.

True, Ronan O'Gara and Ian Keatley are Munster's one and two now, but Hanrahan's talents suggest that, in time, he will join Currow's 'immortals'.

His contribution to the Ireland U-20 side in the summer earned him a nomination for the IRB World Junior Player of the Year award, and he is by far the youngest man in the Munster senior squad.

What the IRFU coaches should do is capture the DNA in Currow. Clearly there is something valuable to be stored for the benefit of Irish rugby.

Certainly, rugby seems to suit the Irish: it is encouraging that there are several other young players impressing, such as Ian Madigan in Leinster and that useful half-back pair in Ulster, Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson.

A brief glance at their birth certificates suggests that many of our star players, many of whom are world-class, are probably in their final seasons.

O'Gara, Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Gordon D'Arcy, Mike Ross, Donncha O'Callaghan are all in their 30s, and it is only natural that they should be thinking of the great scrum of the afterwards.

They can provide their usual service in this season's European Cup, and I must say that the campaigns so far have actually boosted my confidence that there is another Heineken Cup out there to be won.

Munster are clearly in a transition season and Leinster haven't really got their game ironed out.

All the signs are that Ulster are the best of the Irish provinces. They have now managed to ally their splendid, star-studded back division with, at last, a strong, physical, intelligent pack, so well led by Rory Best.

If Ulster could win the Heineken Cup, it would not only be a great lift for Irish rugby but a kick in the pants for the whinging English clubs.

Irish Independent

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