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Crowley, McCloskey, And Keenan Reveal Their Inspirations And Mentors

Crowley, McCloskey, And Keenan Reveal Their Inspirations And Mentors
Colman Stanley
By Colman Stanley
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We praise the Irish rugby players for their hard work, their grind, and mostly their exploits on the pitch.

But those behind the scenes, who have inspired younger generations and dedicated themselves to nurturing talent, also deserve their flowers.

Three members of this current and ground breaking Ireland squad, Energia brand ambassador Hugo Keenan, Stuart McCloskey, and Jack Crowley, have shared stories of those who influenced their careers and helped mould them into the players we see today.

Hugo Keenan

One doesn't simply enter the conversation for world's best fullback without having strong role models and support base, and Keenan's parents, Paul and Avril, provided an environment for their son to thrive.

From a slight and unassuming figure in school, the dedication of his parents - driving him to training, and UCD games to watch the country's best - has helped him reach the top of his profession.


"My parents probably made it possible, whether they saw me playing for Ireland and I'm not too sure," said Keenan

But they always got me involved in rugby, always would bring me to training, to matches.

They used to bring me and my brothers up to games, and watching the likes of Sean O'Brien and Brian O'Driscoll playing for UCD probably helped me to get inspired to, to fall in love with the game.

And yeah, definitely couldn't have done it without them.

Jack Crowley

The 23-year-old is one of the main contestants in Irish rugby's reality show 'The Heir To Johnny Sexton's Throne', and for good reason.

His threatening running game, range of passing, and maturity have made him stand out among the other pretenders, and lead to a first Ireland start against Australia in November.


It comes as little surprise then to hear him cite former Munster flyhalf and Cork Constitution coach, Johnny Holland - who was once Munster's best young talent at ten before injury put paid to his professional career - as a mentor and inspiration.

"And you could just see the pure class of a player that he was and the kind of an excitement around him," said Crowley.

"And then to see him perform that way in the game and in the way that he did, you know, in such a high stage.


"That was the first time I really was aware of Johnny and the possibilities that he had. And then that was as a player my first memory of him.

"So he's been a mentor and someone that I've learned a lot off and got a lot of confidence from playing with them."

7 May 2016; Irish rugby : Johnny Holland, Munster. Guinness PRO12, Round 22, Munster v Scarlets. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Stuart McCloskey

McCloskey has been Ulster's key man over the last 4-5 seasons, and generally their best and most consistent performer.

One of the best gain line breakers in Europe, with deft hands that defy his size, and now finally back in the Ireland fold to complete an inspiring character arc.


Such skill and such a successful career has not come by chance, and, as McCloskey notes, the former Ulster and Dungannon scrumhalf Kieran Campbell was a big part of his early professional development.

"And at that time, and he [Campbell] took a chance and he said, yeah, come and train with us [Dungannon].

"And then from then on, I think I did a pre season with them, played most of the games that first year out of school with the club.

"And he was the one driving that and teaching me how to play rugby really."

8 September 2007; Irish rugby : Kieran Campbell gets the Ulster backline moving against Gloucester. Pre-season friendly, Ulster Rugby v Gloucester Rugby, Ravenhill Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture Credit; John Dickson / SPORTSFILE

SEE ALSO: An All-Time Irish Rugby XV With No Two Players From The Same County

irish rugby paul o'connell keith wood brian o'driscoll tommy bowe brian o'driscoll rob kearney tadhg furlong

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