As the Rugby clubs in Tipperary begin to come out of hibernation in preparation for the rigours of their respective leagues, whether at junior or senior level, we take a look at our Tipperary natives who will be lining out in the professional ranks this year and hoping to make a big impression in the 2014/15 season.
For the next few weeks we will pick one player to profile so that everyone can learn a bit more about our locals before the season kicks off fully.
Our first featured player is Cahir native Tommy O’Donnell. O’Donnell lined out at underage level for Clanwilliam Rugby Club in Tipperary Town.
DOB: 21st May 1987
FROM: Cahir, Co. Tipperary
WEIGHT: 16st 11lb
POSITION: Backrow (Number 6 or 7)
HONOURS: Ireland (4 Caps)
MUNSTER RECORD: 82 Appearances, 11 Tries
O’Donnell got the breaks needed at youth level that either make or break a career starting off and through hard work and determination thereafter he graduated from the Munster Rugby Academy, he’s been a senior contracted player now since the 2009/10 season.
He was named Munster’s Player of the Year after a hugely impressive 2012/13 campaign.
Despite suffering two injuries, O’Donnell impressed in each of his 21 outings scoring four tries in the process to win the award ahead of Dave Kilcoyne and Simon Zebo.
Earned his first Irish cap against the USA in June ’13 but sustained a knee injury against Zebre in the league in September.
O’Donnell returned to action ahead of schedule and made his comeback as a substitute for Munster A in the B & I Cup game against Plymouth in December.
He signed a two-year IRFU contract extension in November 2013 that will keep him at Munster until at least 2016.
O’Donnell was named in the Ireland squad for the 2014 Six Nations and made his Six Nations debut as a substitute in the opener against Scotland. Came off the bench again a week later against Wales with Ireland going on to win the Six Nations in Paris.
Named on Emerging Ireland squad for tour to Romania, June 2014.
Played in Emerging Ireland’s 2014 Nations Cup winning campaign.
SENIOR DEBUT: v Scarlets, September 2007, Musgrave Park
HEINEKEN CUP DEBUT: v Scarlets, December 2011, Thomond Park
CLUB: UL Bohemians RFC
PREVIOUS CLUB: Clanwilliam RFC
INT’L HONOURS: Ireland Youths; Ireland U19/U20; Emerging Ireland; Ireland
Keep an eye out next week to learn about another Tipperary Rugby Star.
Stats and Information Source (www.munsterrugby.ie)