RLI Interviews Ireland u19 Head Coach Conor Kelly
22nd October 2014, 22:02
Ahead of the first ever Ireland u19 game vs Scotland this Saturday at 12pm, RLI caught up with head Coach Conor Kelly to ask him a few questions.
Hi Conor. How did the selection process go for the team?
The selection process was extremely difficult as there were a lot of players who put their hands up for selection and it was not easy selecting 20 out of the players.
It was pleasing to have so many players in contention for spots. This bodes well for the future of the u19 set up.
How has training been going with the team?
Training has gone well. We have been training as a squad for nearly a month now with some high quality sessions put together.
The effort the lads have put in has been very pleasing and I hope that it all falls into place nicely on Saturday.
Have they been working well together?
A lot of the players already knew each other before the trials began and so this helped putting combinations together. The guys who didn’t know others too well have bedded into the system nicely.
It is particularly pleasing to see the squad interacting away from the pitch and to see the bond between players grow over the weeks we have been training.
How do you think they will do in the two matches?
It is hard to know really. Although we have seen footage of both sides we are playing it will be hard to tell how the players will do as it is our first game at this level.
I am confident thought that the training that we have put in will stand to us come kick off.
What has been the biggest difficulty you have come across, and how have you combatted it?
It has probably been keeping the lads grounded. It is very exciting times for all of us involved as it is the first Ireland u19 squad to take to the field.
I must say though that the players have been really focused and are all eager to get onto the pitch on Saturday and put all the hard work into practice.
Who has been helping you?
I have received help from some great coaches and we have a really strong management team who complement each other well. Carl De Chenu, Anthony McCreery and James Mendeika have provided vital input during training sessions.
Dave Handcock has put a superb strength and conditioning programme in place for the lads which has really put us in good stead while Wayne Finnerty has been superb as team manager and has taken a lot of pressure off the coaching staff.
Is there much competition in the squad?
There is a lot of competition within the squad and it is going to be hard to select a match day 17 as all twenty have earned a right to be out there playing.
I think the competition has driven the training sessions to a new level as every player wants desperately to pull on the green jersey come Saturday morning.
Who are the biggest leaders in the squad?
The leaders of the squad are Matt Connolly who has taken to the role of captain brilliantly and is driving the players forward at every opportunity. Ryan Healy and Johnny Mooney are also great leaders.
In reality every player is a leader in their own right and this is great as there is always someone looking to lift the intensity.
And Lastly, Once these two matches are finished, have you got any plans in place for the development of youth rugby league in Ireland?
We have some big plans for developing under age rugby league in Ireland but for now the focus is very much on Scotland and Wales as to look beyond these games would be a big mistake as they are both talented squads.
The Ireland u19 team will take on Scotland u19 at 12pm on Saturday (25th October) in Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.