Monday 23 September 2019

Cronin caps a record feat with a try, try and try again

Sean Cronin of Leinster. Photo: Sportsfile
Sean Cronin of Leinster. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

While Leinster may have completed an historic campaign for Irish provincial rugby by completing a first trophy double, their hooker Sean Cronin also celebrated a notable personal landmark in Saturday's Guinness PRO14 Championship final.

And it may just prove to be the catalyst for the Limerick native to elbow his way into Joe Schmidt's Irish plans for the first test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday week, seven months after being exiled from the November international squad.

When Cronin crossed in the old Wanderers clubhouse corner for Leinster's third try, effectively sealing victory when Jonathan Sexton's expertly drawn conversion put his side 28-11 up in the 52nd minute, the 32-year-old leapfrogged a clutch of notables to claim a unique record.

Apart from Cronin himself in 2012 and 2016, only four other players had ever scored tries in separate finals before this season - Leinster predecessors Gordon D'Arcy ('01 & '14) and Shane Jennings ('13 & '14), as well as Irish teammate and Munster wing Keith Earls ('11 % '17) and DTH van der Merwe ('15 & '17).

Cronin, by scoring in his third final, now stands apart.

"It's been an unbelievable season," chirps Cronin.

Also unbelievable - for some, at least - was his absence from the November series before he resumed his now habitual Six Nations residency on the bench for Ireland's Grand Slam.

However, with Schmidt likely to freshen up his team in the second test, Cronin could be one of those players ear-marking a possible role from the beginning.

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"I previously said that you have to take the lows and you've got to look at how you can bounce back from that," says Cronin , who has started just nine of his 61 appearances in a green shirt, and, oddly, none in his 30 Six Nations involvements.

"So that's all I did. I saw what Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster wanted from me here, and what was required from all the coaching staff to get up to speed, and they've had a bit of faith in me.

"That's all you can do, try and work your socks off if you're left out of a squad.

"Don't sulk. Work as hard as you can. And believe in yourself."

The coterie of Leinster double-winners will also be on hand to boost Irish confidence ahead of the trip, particularly given the dreadful form of Australia's own provincial players in their Super Rugby efforts this season.

"A lot of those lads will come in outside of Leinster thirsty for more success as well off the back of the Grand Slam," he says.

"And it will be a good mix obviously.

"We're going to come in and try and add value, like we always do, and add a bit of success there.

"I'm sure he'll have us back down to earth when we get together on Wednesday.

"Joe has his own way of doing stuff as well, so we'll have to get up to speed with that and put this to bed pretty quick."

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