Ireland U-20 back Oran McNulty is hoping to make a big mark in the upcoming Six Nations having opted to play for his father’s native country rather than try to pursue a career in his native England.
McNulty came to prominence in the Bath academy and with Millfield School but got picked up by the Irish Exiles a couple of seasons ago and has not looked back since.
He moved to Galway and joined the Connacht academy and having played at U-18, U-19 and Sevens for Ireland, the back three player is ready to step up to the mark for Noel McNamara’s side as they begin the defence of their Six Nations title when they take on Scotland in Cork next weekend.
And with his dad Dermot originally coming from Cork, McNulty won’t be short of support when the U-20s play home matches there against Scotland, Wales and Italy.
I first got picked up by the Irish Exiles. I was playing against Gloucester for Bath U-18s. I got picked up by Wayne Mitchell. I followed through the Exiles programme until U-18s where I got into the schools and club sides to play England at Ashbourne.
I played in that match and enjoyed it. I have continually gone back throughout school to the Exiles and played a few games with them. Then we did a tour of Ireland in my second last year of school and we were undefeated in that. I got picked up by Connacht, in playing against Connacht in the Sportsground.
When I left school Connacht gave me the offer and I was absolutely willing to take that. It’s very different from back home, but other than the weather it’s brilliant, the people are lovely and I have really settled in well over there.
It was tough initially. I have got a big family so leaving the family and everything was tough in the first few weeks. But I settled in nicely. I made a lot of friends. A lot of my friends from England visited over so I still have connections through there.
It is very a family orientated club. They are aware of where people have come from. They do put the family before anything else which is a great ethos in the club. That is why I enjoy being there a lot.
McNulty said the competition for places is huge in the Irish squad. Eleven of the 17 backs are underage again next year but after celebrating his birthday last week this is his final year at U-20 so he’s keen to make the most of the opportunity.
A keen swimmer and hockey player, he comes from a family of three boys and a girl, with younger brother Finn now coming through the Bath academy. In time he hopes to make the breakthrough into Andy Friend’s Connacht side but for now the main priority is making an impact with the Irish U-20s.
“There is a lot of competition in the squad at the moment. For the final matchday squad I still have to push on and earn my spot. So hopefully I will be involved now. I am very looking forward to putting on the green jersey,” he added.
Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile