Saturday 23 March 2019

Limerick's new star is putting in time on and off the pitch

Thomond Park local is thrilled to get his chance to shine on home turf, and is ready to battle for honours, writes Daragh Small

Red Star: Dan Goggin celebrates victory over Exeter Chiefs with Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile
Red Star: Dan Goggin celebrates victory over Exeter Chiefs with Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile

The Mid West Simon Community added a new recruit at end of 2018, and Munster centre Dan Goggin is thrilled to have found a fulfilling outlet to channel his energy away from the High Performance Centre.

Goggin has become an ambassador for the organisation who support homeless people across Clare, Limerick and north Tipperary.

It's an extremely worthwhile undertaking for the 24-year-old Limerick native who is thrilled to contribute.

"I am helping out in any area I can. I am on the board with them, I go to meetings here and there to see what can be done," says Goggin.

"I am not in college and I have been looking for something else to do. When that opportunity came around I said I'd do it. I know it will be good for me to be doing something like that. I'm all up for it.

"This is the first time I have put myself forward for something charity-wise. There is a feel-good factor when you are helping people out because it's great to do it.

Dan Goggin scoring a try against Connacht. Photo: Sportsfile
Dan Goggin scoring a try against Connacht. Photo: Sportsfile

"It's not something that is set for a time period. If there is a stage during rugby that I have to leave it I can always come back to it again."

A powerful, skilful ball-carrier, Goggin is a vital weapon in the Munster midfield, where his reputation has grown rapidly.

Goggin has now played 33 times between the league and Europe and he has scored five tries for his province.

He made his senior debut against Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets in September 2016 but it really took until 2018-'19 before he made a big statement.

Johann van Graan has started to trust him with the No 12 and 13 jerseys on a regular basis while he watched Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell and Sam Arnold all go on to represent their country.

But Goggin has his focus fixed on the red jersey before he thinks about a potential call-up from Joe Schmidt down the road.

"It's something that I have always thought about, and it's been something I have always wanted," he says.

"I just try and take one step at a time. I need to focus on what I am doing now instead of thinking about the future too much. If that Irish opportunity comes, I will take it with both hands.

Essential

"For now I am just focused on getting in the team with Munster. I want to get some silverware."

Munster are desperate for trophies and having reached two semi-finals again last season, they could reach a couple of finals in 2019.

Players like Goggin will be essential and he is determined to start the major knockout fixtures and he desperate to play a big part in any success.

"It would be huge to play in the big games," adds Goggin. "I am just going to focus on training now and keep playing well in the lead-up to those big games.

"Competition is huge but that is definitely what brings the best out of us in the centre. If I get the go-ahead to play in those big games it will be a huge confidence-booster knowing the coaching staff are backing me.

"It will influence me and my game in a good way."

Goggin didn't make his Champions Cup debut until this season, in a huge clash with Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

The former St Munchin's student, who grew up in Farranshone right around the corner from Thomond Park, had his 2017-'18 cut short through injury. Goggin picked up a knee injury in Munster's opening PRO14 game against Benetton Rugby.

He was back for seven appearances in the second half of the campaign but placed lots of his focus on returning a better player for pre-season.

"I came back in good shape in the pre-season. I put down a good couple of months there. I was pretty happy with all of that," he says.

"Size wasn't a problem. I came back and was actually three or four kilogrammes lighter. It made me more agile. I kept the strength as well so that really helped.

"It was all about my diet really. Just the amount of food I was consuming and the types of food, and then training as well. It was just an all-round improvement. You are lighter, you can move around better. You feel better. That's just for me."

Goggin was relentless in his pursuit for a starting berth at the beginning of the current season, and Van Graan rewarded his persistence.

He made six starts before the old knee injury cropped up again in the 80th minute of Munster's Champions Cup victory over Gloucester in Thomond Park.

"It was an MCL injury on the same knee that I injured the year previously," says Goggin. "It was a freak accident. Joey (Carbery) tackled one of their players, he fell into my knee. My foot got caught in the ground and it bent my knee inwards a little bit. It was just unfortunate.

"It was my second or third time stretching that MCL ligament. I knew at the time it wasn't a Grade 1, but it was somewhere around a Grade 2 because I couldn't get up and walk it off.

"If it was a PRO14 game in December with the hail coming down, every game is important, but because of the occasion with a big European game in Thomond Park, a big crowd and everyone is happy, that definitely makes things easier.

Relaunch

"My family were all there that night. I presume it's hard for them to see someone from the family get injured while they are watching. But they know it's all part of the game.

"These things happen and we just have to live with that."

Goggin could have dwelled on his bad luck but the hard work he put in during the summer helped keep him on the straight and narrow, as he prepared to relaunch his season.

"I wanted to be ahead of schedule initially. But the biggest thing we realised was there was no need to rush it," says Goggin.

"I am not in a bad place and there was no need to rush. I came back right on time then. And thankfully Johann gave me a chance straight away when I got back.

"He put me into the Leinster game at Thomond Park. He started me at 13. It was good to get back playing games straight away. That definitely made things easier for the following weeks to come.

"It's great for confidence when your head coach backs you and gives you the chance when you are after coming back from an injury."

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Why Irish fans shouldn't lose faith and how Joe Schmidt can turn things around for the World Cup

In association with Aldi

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport