Rugby

Ireland's 2007 Grand Slam-Winning U20 Team: Where Are They Now?

Ireland's 2007 Grand Slam-Winning U20 Team: Where Are They Now?

In 2007, Ireland not only won its first U20 Six Nations but also the Grand Slam.

It was a team featuring names which would go on to serve the Ireland international team and provinces to the current day. It also included many whose careers were cut short by injury.

The first XV below are those who started the opening game of the tournament against Wales.

Felix Jones

The fullback won 13 caps for Ireland and was a part of Joe Schmidt's 2015 Six Nations-winning squad. Later that year, aged just 28 and playing with Munster, he was forced into retirement due to a neck injury.

Jones quickly moved into coaching with Munster. He left the province in the summer of 2019 and went on to be a part of South Africa's World Cup-winning coaching staff. That is a role which he will continue in 2020.

Shane Monahan

Advertisement

9 February 2007; Shane Monahan, Ireland. U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v France, Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture Credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

A Leinster player at the time, Monahan moved to Connacht for a season in 2010 before heading across the water to join Rotherham in English rugby's second tier. After an impressive season, the Drogheda man was picked up by Premiership side Gloucester. He joined Munster on a short-term contract in 2015 as cover during the World Cup.

He has since moved into areas outside rugby. Monahan is an artist and runs social media platform Limor.

Darren Cave

Aged just 32, Cave retired from rugby at the end of last season after making over 200 appearances for Ulster and winning 11 caps for Ireland. He was also part of the 2015 Ireland World Cup squad.

Advertisement

He works as a rugby analyst and runs coffee and donut shop Guilt Trip in Belfast.

Aidan Wynne

From Ferbane, the centre spent four years with Connacht, leaving in the summer of 2011. He went on to play AIL with Old Belvedere. He became part of the Buccaneers coaching team in 2018 and is currently their backs coach.

Keith Earls

16 March 2007; Keith Earles, Ireland, in action against Italy. Italy v Ireland, U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Santa Colomba Stadium, Benevento, Italy. Picture credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Advertisement

Still one of Ireland and Munster's most potent backs. He has amassed 84 caps and was part of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 World Cup squads.

Ian Keatley

A career which began with Leinster, took in three years with Connacht, eight with Munster, and half a season with London Irish. The out-half currently plays in Italy with Benneton. He has seven caps for Ireland.

Paul O’Donohoe

After coming through the Leinster Academy, the scrum-half made his senior debut in 2009. He joined Connacht in 2011 and spent three years in the west before having his career ended by a back injury in 2014.

He is now head of international business at CannGoods.

Advertisement

Cian Healy

Still Ireland and Leinster's first choice loosehead, now with 98 caps to his name.

Richard Sweeney

16 March 2007; Richard Sweeney, Ireland. Italy v Ireland, U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Santa Colomba Stadium, Benevento, Italy. Picture credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

The hooker was with the Leinster academy in 2007. After departing the province, he continued to play club rugby with St Mary's College and qualified as a doctor at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Advertisement

Jamie Hagan

The tighthead prop played for Leinster, Connacht, London Irish and Melbourne Rebels. He currently plays in France for ProD2 side Beziers.

He won one cap for Ireland, coming off the bench against USA during a 2013 summer tour.

Hagan was interviewed on Balls.ie's World In Union podcast last year.

Conor McInerney

McInerney left Leinster to join Ospreys in 2009. Two years later, aged just 24, the second row was forced into retirement due to a knee injury.

Advertisement

Ospreys head physio Chris Towers said at the time that there were "no options available that would allow Conor to continue with a career in professional rugby".

Currently works in finance in London.

Andrew Browne

23 February 2007; Andrew Browne, left, celebrates with team-mate Felix Jones after the final whistle against England in the Under 20 Six Nations Rugby Championship at Dubarry Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Picture Credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

The second row spent 11 years playing with Connacht. He was part of the province's proudest day, winning the 2016 Pro12 title with victory over Leinster.

Advertisement

He is currently head coach of Galwegians, a role which he took up last year.

TJ Anderson

After rising through the ranks with Ulster, the Derry backrow departed Ravenhill in 2011, joining Connacht. He subsequently joined English Championship side Ealing Trailfinders.

David Pollock

16 March 2007; Ireland U20 captain David Pollock lifts the trophy after victory against Italy. Picture credit: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Advertisement

Yet another member of this team whose career was cut short by injury. Pollock captained the Ireland U20s to that Grand Slam. Viewed as a player likely to be a regular for Ulster and Ireland, he was forced to retire at just 23 in 2010 due to a hip injury.

"Whilst it was always my intention to resume my studies at Queen’s, I never intended it to be quite so soon," he said at the time.

"My hip injury, however, has not resolved and I have been advised I am no longer able to achieve the level of fitness required to play professional rugby."

In a 2019 interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Pollock - who had studied medicine before taking up a contract with Ulster - said it was his aim to become a consultant in radiology.

Sean O'Brien

O'Brien played the early rounds of Ireland's campaign before suffering a hamstring injury. He went on to become one of Ireland's great backrows despite numerous injuries down the years. Currently plays for London Irish.

Advertisement
Others:

Tommy O'Donnell

One of the unluckiest men in Irish rugby. Usually a high level performer but also constantly injured. He only has 13 international caps. The Tipperary man would certainly have much more were it not for injuries.

Kyle Tonetti

The South African-born centre was forced to retire from rugby in 2014 due to an ankle injury. He was with Connacht at the time after joining from Sale Sharks in 2011. He had come through the Leinster academy. Currently works in financial services.

Ruaidhri Murphy

Advertisement

The prop enjoyed a career which began with Leinster and took in Exeter Chiefs, the Brumbies and Ulster. He joined the Brumbies coaching staff for the 2019 season.

David Drake

He has been the Ulster rugby academy's lead strength and conditioning coach since 2010. He also works as a coach with the Ireland U20s.

Ger Slattery

The Limerick hooker made four appearances for Munster during the 2013/14 seasons. He also had an 11-year AIL career which ended in 2018 after making more than 300 appearances for Young Munster. He has also worked as a coach with St Munchin's College.

Niall O'Connor

The out-half had two stints with Ulster while also playing for Connacht and English Championship side Jersey.

O'Connor is a good friend of golfer Rory McIlroy. Late last year, with regular caddy Harry Diamond unavailable, O'Connor carried McIlroy's bag during the DP Tour World Championship in Dubai.

He is also senior vice-president of NJOY, an American company which manufactures e-cigarettes.

Alan Brogan: 'Jim Told Me. He Stopped Me At The Door And Said, 'Can I Have A Chat?''

PJ Browne
Article written by

You may also like