ONE of the rising stars of Irish rugby, Jack Crowley from Innishannon, will miss out on a chance of appearing on the world stage this summer.
The cancellation of the World U20 Championship in late June-early July in northern Italy came as no surprise given the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in that part of the stricken country.
It’s almost churlish to be thinking about sport given the hellish conditions in places like Calvisano and Verona, two venues appointed for Ireland’s Pool A games against Argentina, France, and Japan.
There are few words to describe the horror of over 11,000 deaths nationwide and, sadly, growing by the day, in a country gripped by indescribable fear.
Sport becomes almost irrelevant as a consequence.
Crowley was 20 back in January so he will be ineligible next season.
The former Bandon Grammar School out-half was ever-present in Ireland’s brilliant start to the Six Nations Championship.
In his three games against Scotland, Wales, and England, the young Cork Constitution number 10 accumulated 36 points, courtesy of two tries, 10 conversions and a couple of penalties.
And Crowley would surely have added significantly to his tally but for the postponement of the games against Italy at Musgrave Park and France away.
He has a penchant for scoring remarkable tries, both for Ireland and Con, for whom he stepped in comfortably after regular out-half Aidan Moynihan broke his leg earlier in the season.
Crowley’s first-half try from his own 22 in the 38-26 defeat of Scotland in the opening round of the championship in Cork reflected his approach to the game.
The visitors coughed up possession at the Dolphin end, and sensing his opportunity, Crowley set off on a memorable run, rounding three Scots to take him into their half of the pitch.
The full-back thought he had him, but Crowley produced a text-book hand-off to open up an unprotected route to the try line.
It was typical of the player and team’s adventurous approach, which again appeared in the 38-26 victory over the Welsh and the eye-catching 39-21 success over England at Franklin’s Gardens.
There was earlier evidence of Crowley’s ability to weigh up what’s on, when he won the December Try of the Month in the energia All-Ireland League.
He collected €250 for his debut try in the champions’ 35-19 win over Ballynahinch at Temple Hill and thereby an automatic entry for the overall Try of the Season award, though it remains to be seen if that is honoured given the abrupt end to the season.
Crowley, who has played for Munster A, started and finished a flowing move which began deep in Con’s own 22 with scrum-half Duncan Williams also heavily involved.
Williams set the move in motion with a pass to Crowley, who then threw out a long pass to full-back Greg Higgins, skipping out centres Niall Kenneally and Alex McHenry in the process.
Higgins gobbled up the ground to bring play close to half-way before parting to right wing Sean French, who eluded a couple of tackles until grounded just outside Hinch’s 22.
French did well to keep the ball alive by feeding the supporting McHenry, who also impressed in ensuring the move kept its momentum by off-loading to Williams.
He, then, popped off the scoring pass to Crowley, who raced away to complete a thrilling attack, one of the many reasons why Con were unbeaten in all competitions this season.
It’s unlikely he’ll wear the green U20 shirt again this season, a pity because Ireland would have fancied their chances of emerging from the group.
They finished eighth in Argentina two years ago, having been runners-up in 2016.