Friday 14 December 2018

Gallagher is a welcome graduate

'He (Gallagher) came in and looked completely comfortable at that level.' Photo: Sportsfile
'He (Gallagher) came in and looked completely comfortable at that level.' Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny O'Connor

With the demands of professional rugby becoming tougher physically every year, squad depth is crucial to the success of any team, writes Johnny O'Connor. The academy is a crucial component and it is great to see the likes of Cillian Gallagher graduate from it and make his debut last weekend.

He came in and looked completely comfortable at that level. He has been a big prospect at the Sportsground for a long time, and after doing so well at underage level with club and country, the former Ireland U-20 captain could play a big part for Connacht throughout the season.

It was only his first competitive appearance for the province but he was very industrious, had a good few strong carries and adjusted to the pace of the game.

Premiership rugby is very forward-orientated rugby and physicality and size are valued greatly. It was good for Cillian to come up against a large pack like that and in the contact he looked very comfortable. His smooth transition to this level is testament to the great work of academy S&C staff like Andy Murphy and Micheál Devane coupled with his own efforts.

Connacht have had to rely mainly on Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux and James Cannon in the lock position this season but Gallagher adds more youth and when Andrew Browne returns in November there will suddenly be a lot more depth.

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