Ben Brady/INPHO Brian Deeny during Leinster training.
# Progress
'The pathway is definitely getting a lot better... There is no chip on the shoulder'
Leinster star Brian Deeny insists not having a Schools Senior Cup on his CV is of no concern in professional ranks.

HIS PARTICULAR JOURNEY into the senior squad might still be categorised as ‘the road less travelled’, but Brian Deeny is hopeful he is the latest example of significant change that is happening within Leinster Rugby.

While the majority of players to have come through the eastern province’s system during the professional era are past pupils of powerhouses from the schools’ game such as Blackrock College, St Michael’s College and Belvedere College, others are starting to progress via the so-called non-traditional route.

Tadhg Furlong (Good Counsel College, New Ross) is the most notable member of this cohort in the current Leinster squad, and Wexford Town native Deeny has spoken in the past of taking inspiration from his fellow Slaneysider.

Additionally, recent Ireland senior call-up Jamie Osborne (Naas CBS), Martin Moloney (Knockbeg College) and Ciaran Frawley (Skerries CC) have also gained first-team recognition without having the Leinster Schools Senior Cup on their CV.

“The pathway is definitely getting a lot better. You see Jamie [Osborne] starting the last two games and Marty [Moloney] as well coming through the system like numerous lads. I found it hard when I was younger because I was involved in other sports, like GAA at my school. As well as travelling for games, but I always loved it,” the St Peter’s College alum explained.

That was never a problem for me. I don’t think it is as much an issue for lads coming through. In terms of chip on the shoulder or stuff, you want to prove yourself, but when you come up here and meet the lads they are all lovely. There is no chip on the shoulder from that point of view.”

Although injuries stalled him for a period of time, Deeny (who represented the Wexford minor footballers in 2017) eventually broke into the Leinster first-team last season with back-to-back United Rugby Championship appearances away to South African outfits the Sharks and the Stormers. Further caps have followed during the current campaign and this month has seen him achieving two substantial career milestones.

In addition to bagging a maiden professional try on his first home start against Connacht in the URC on New Year’s Day, Deeny made his Champions Cup bow off the bench 13 days later in Leinster’s facile pool stage win over Gloucester. The latter game was a special moment for the youthful lock as his parents Georgina and Bernard made the trip over to Kingsholm on the day.

“It’s a big milestone and I was just happy that my parents were able to experience it as well because they are hard working with full-time jobs and they don’t get much time off. My mother owns a B&B and my Dad has his business, which means he is on the road a lot.

“The B&B is 24/7 so they don’t get much time off with that and my Dad, after coming home after a long day on the road, would drive me to Naas on a Monday or Carlow on a Wednesday as I was coming through the system. If it wasn’t for the help and the effort they put into me it wouldn’t have worked out, so I appreciate when they get those special moments.”

Speaking from Leinster Rugby HQ in UCD, Deeny also paid a glowing tribute to his fellow academy graduate Charlie Ryan. A star for the Ireland U20s on their march to a Grand Slam title in 2019 – a year before Deeny featured at the same international grade – Ryan announced his retirement at the age of just 23 on Monday because of a long-standing and recurring knee injury.

“Charlie is an absolute gentleman, you can ask anyone here about that. He’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. I always say that if it wasn’t for him I don’t know what would have happened,” Deeny said.

“I came up and joined the sub-academy from the club side [he lined out for Wexford Wanderers in his youth]. Probably not as well-versed in the set-piece as the schools lads would be and I found Charlie and the coaches helped me quite a lot.

“In terms of coaching me with all these little small skills that you wouldn’t get in the club scene. It is very sad to see him go and I will miss him massively.”

Originally published at 07.00

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