Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dublin skipper Cullen joins Leinster rugby

Dublin captain Bryan Cullen
Dublin captain Bryan Cullen
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LEINSTER rugby chiefs have signed up Dublin's All-Ireland winning captain Bryan Cullen to coach their next generation of stars.

Having made history by becoming the first Dublin skipper in 16 years to lift Sam Maguire, one of Cullen's next big tasks will be to help deliver success for Leinster rugby.

The Skerries native will be overseeing the fitness programme of the province's next generation of stars when he starts his new job as the Heineken Cup champions' sub-academy fitness coach in the coming weeks.

The 27-year-old is in the process of completing a PhD in exercise physiology at DCU where he has studied under sports science expert Niall Moyna. He is believed to be keen to develop his skills in a fully professional environment.

Cullen has been working part-time at the Medfit Wellness and Rehabilitation centre in Blackrock, but now he will form a key part of the successful Leinster Academy team under academy manager Colin McEntee and former Ireland and Leinster full-back Girvan Dempsey.

The province's production line is impressive, with nine of Ireland's 30-man World Cup squad having come through their ranks.

Based out of the Riverview gym in Donnybrook and UCD, the Dublin half-forward will provide specialist support in the area of physical conditioning to age-grade and nominated development players, implement the IRFU national fitness programme and work with schools and youths coaches to develop young players with prospects of provincial success.

The job was advertised as an "exciting and challenging position," and Cullen was required to have an IRFU conditioning certificate, strength and fitness coaching experience, his educational qualifications and organisation and communication skills.

His decade playing at the top level of competitive Gaelic games is sure to have helped his cause, and it will be regarded as a notable coup for rugby to appoint such a high-profile GAA star.

Leinster's gain will definitely be seen as the GAA's loss, with the association hoping to capitalise on the huge goodwill in the capital following Sunday's momentous victory over great rivals Kerry.

However, Leinster manager and former Ireland scrum-half Guy Easterby believes that the city is big enough for two massive sporting brands in blue.

"It's a huge positive, especially with Kilkenny winning the hurling and now Dublin the football -- it's great for the area," he said.

"Their season doesn't run along our season and I just hope that the positivity that has come out of Sunday that was plain for all to see, it was a fantastic atmosphere there, can be carried on."

Newly-crowned All-Ireland champions Dublin will play county champions Kilmacud Crokes in a charity challenge in Parnell Park (7.45) this evening. Admission is €10 with the entire proceeds divided between two charities that the Dublin team is involved with -- Crosscare and Temple Street Children's Hospital.

Irish Independent

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