CORK rugby star John Hodnett helped the Ireland U20 rugby team win the Six Nations title and the Grand Slam recently.
The Rosscarbery man excelled from his number-eight berth. His strong runs and ferocious tackling were key factors in their great success.
His former secondary school, Mount St Michael, are thrilled with the success of their former pupil. Principal Bart Kerrisk said: “It is an amazing honour for John to play for Ireland and be a member of the Grand Slam- and Six Nations-winning team. John has a bright future ahead of him and we continue to look on with pride on all his achievements,” said Hodnett’s proud former principal.
John’s impressive performances for Noel McNamara’s underage international side had Rosscarbery and his former alma mater engrossed. Deputy principal Dee Keohane said: “Since the competition began, John immediately made an impression on all the community. We are so proud of him. Wearing the number-eight jersey and the red skull cap, he gave every effort possible in every game. We are sure that it won’t be long before John will be playing at senior international level.”
The west Cork rugby ace plays his club rugby with UCC. John was always a very strong athlete during his secondary school days. He particularly excelled in GAA.
“John was a committed sportsperson and played football at the highest level in Mount Saint Michael. He won U14 and U16 county medals in Gaelic football. It was, however, becoming apparent that he was edging towards a career in rugby,” said Bart.
“He was playing rugby with Clonakilty RFC and quickly progressed up through the ranks. Soon, John was playing on the Munster and Ireland U18 rugby squad. Success followed quickly. Now, at UCC, he is excelling.”
His rugby heroics have led to a revival in rugby in the Rosscarbery school, said Dee. “Rugby is only at the infancy stage in the school. Just recently, however, our U15 rugby team won their first match.
“Thanks to John’s inspirational performances, we are seeing the demand for rugby increase. We also provide girls’ non-contact rugby, at lunchtimes.”
Mount St Michael have produced an array of talented sports stars across the various disciplines. They take great pride in seeing their students prosper, both academically and in sport.
“Mount St Michael values sport hugely. We recognise and acknowledge the valuable learning that comes from sport and we offer a huge variety of activities. We have had great success, in both the boys’ and ladies’ football this year.
“The U16 boy basketballers were just pipped for the All-Ireland title. All these are remarkable achievements, considering we are a rural, mixed school. Our determination and spirit always comes to the fore. John Hodnett displays that spirit and determination in every game.
“We also excel at other sports. We provide an immense range of activities, such as athletics, table tennis, orienteering, swimming, hockey, rugby and golf. We have our own gym, which is used regularly.”
Mount St Michael are conscious of the role sports play in fighting obesity and in combating mental health problems, said Dee.
“Fitness is highlighted at every opportunity. It is great to see young people enjoying sports daily and we firmly believe that this has huge benefits for mental health, also. Teenagers can limit their screen time and take up some form of sport and reap great rewards.
“We are very lucky to have a local athletics club, The Rosscarbery Steam Runners, who run programmes such as Couch to 5k, etc. Gaelic football is synonymous with Rosscarbery and there is an opportunity for training here for boys and girls.
“Our students have every opportunity, both at school and in the local community, to access a variety of sports. Therefore, it is not such a surprise that many of our past pupils have gone on to compete successfully at local, national, and international levels,” Dee said.
Mount St Michael are looking forward to welcoming back John Hodnett in the coming weeks, said Dee.
“We are looking forward to welcoming John back to the school with some silverware. The students are very much looking forward to meeting him. He has five caps for Ireland, which is an amazing achievement at such a young age.”
The Ireland rugby star is a huge role model and a great ambassador, not only in Mount St Michael but throughout the hinterland of Rosscarbery.
“John is a great role model for the area and the school. Anybody in this community that excels in sport is a huge role model for all of us, in terms of entertainment value. His success also highlights the health benefits of fitness and sport,” Bart said.
“He worked hard and he deserves all the success he is currently enjoying. He is a great ambassador for the whole community. Having won the Six Nations title and the Grand Slam with the Ireland U20 team is a terrific achievement. He played a huge role in their success.
“The World Cup is coming up and John will surely be part of that squad. We know that John has a bright future ahead of him. Mount St Michael are proud to call him one of ours.”