CORK rising rugby star Jack Crowley continued his development as a player with huge potential when he made the Munster senior squad for their PRO14 game against Edinburgh recently.
The Cork Con out-half is thrilled to be back playing rugby after a stop-start year due to Covid.
Crowley paid tribute to Con for their role in helping him develop as a player.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to play rugby again. During the lockdown I was counting the days until we could train and play again.
“Cork Con have been a brilliant club to play for. It has been a huge part of my development as a player in the last year or so and I’ve learned a lot from the lads up there. Everyone up there has been great,” revealed the Innishannon native.
Crowley started this year in brilliant fashion. He featured prominently for the Irish U20 team who were in the middle of their Six Nations campaign when rugby and sport ground to a halt.
He was in imperious form for the Ireland underage team with his place kicking, mazy running ability, and technical skills all receiving huge plaudits.
Munster and Ireland rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has tipped Crowley for a huge career. He is glad to be back playing rugby, but he would have loved the opportunity to have concluded this year’s U20 Six Nations campaign.
“2020 has been an unusual year, but I’m very grateful that I got to play with the Irish 20s for those three games. It was an unreal experience.
“However, it was quite disappointing that we didn’t get the chance to finish the campaign with games against France and Italy.
“It’s still good we won those three games, but I’ll never be fully satisfied that we didn’t get to go for the Grand Slam and win it outright.”
The up and coming rugby star used the enforced time off during lockdown very well as he worked hard on his fitness, his kicking game, and toning his physique.
With the start date for resuming sport changing on a near weekly basis, Crowley admits motivation was tough on occasion.
He is pleased he used his time very efficiently.
“Absolutely, I pushed myself to try and be the fittest I have ever been post lockdown so I could perform as best as possible on the pitch.
“I was able to run at home in a field next to our house. We also have two goalposts in that field that I was able to do my kicking with.
“At the start of lockdown we bought a set of weights for a makeshift gym at home and it helped keep my gym work up. It did the job perfectly.
“Motivation at times during lockdown would get low as the start date for rugby would get pushed out, but you remember that this lockdown, like all storms, eventually passes.
“When it does, you have to be ready to perform and that is what kept me going. Prior to the lockdown I had a number of areas in my game that I wanted and needed to work on, so I turned the negative of being locked up at home away from the team into a positive where I could work on my skills.”
Crowley played his underage rugby with local club Bandon RFC, with whom his family have a deep involvement.
He enjoyed a very successful underage career with Bandon and is grateful to all involved within the club for the huge role they played in harnessing his undoubted potential.
“My time in Bandon was and still is a huge part of my career path today. It allowed me to play and learn the game while having fun alongside my friends.
“I played with Bandon up until I was 18-years-old. We had a really strong team that was very close all the way up.
“We were quite unlucky in finals until we finally won the Munster final and then the All-Ireland final. That was a huge achievement and it was a brilliant way to finish our underage career with our local club.”
Rugby in west Cork continues to thrive and grow. Darren Sweetnam has been joined in the Munster senior squad by a plethora of west Cork players and Crowley is thrilled that rugby is growing in west Cork.
“Lads like Darren Sweetnam, the Coombes cousins, Fineen Wycherley, and John Hodnett continue to show young players from their area that it is possible to climb the ladder.
“These lads have carved the way for others to push on. Rugby in west Cork is thriving. It is great to see.”
The ambitious Cork rugby player has very specific ambitions he hopes to realise in the coming months and years.
“From a short-term perspective, I’m relatively new to the out-half position. My first season as a 10 was in my last year in club rugby. My aim is to keep on learning from as many people as I can to grow my game to the next level.
“Hopefully I will keep developing and I will get a few senior games under my belt. My long-term aim is just to keep learning and developing my game to the highest levels that I possibly can and see where that takes me.”