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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 15 April 2021

'It was a very difficult decision but playing professional sport, that's the dream'

Darren Sweetnam spoke to Rugbaí BEO TG4 about his sporting background and Munster’s year.

Source: NemetonTV/Vimeo

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DARREN SWEETNAM WAS yesterday named Munster Young Player of the Year.

The 24-year-old has excelled this year in Munster’s Pro12 and Champions Cup campaigns, landing seven tries in 25 appearances to date.

He made his debut for the province just three years ago, and he’s being tipped for a huge future in the game.

There was a time though that he faced a dilemma, and was unsure if he’d pursue rugby.

Growing up, he was an exciting prospect at any sport he tried his hand at. He played Gaelic football, soccer and badminton.

But it always boiled down to two — rugby and hurling.

He decided to try and balance both for as long as he could manage. At one stage, he was playing for the Cork senior hurlers and Munster U20s, but he chose to follow the latter’s pathway.

“At the time it was a very difficult decision but playing professional sport, that’s the dream,” he told Rugbaí BEO TG4.

“Rugby obviously wouldn’t have the strongest background in West Cork. We’d be a big GAA background.”

He’s transferred his GAA background to the rugby scene, and it has been working a treat: “The high ball is a big part of our game plan.

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“There’s a lot of fielding, catching high balls and what not, so I think maybe I did bring a bit of that from football and hurling over to rugby.”

Darren Sweetnam Sweetnam in action for the Cork hurlers. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

He’s featured for Cork in an All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final in Croke Park and he played in the Aviva for Munster’s Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens last month, but Sweetnam admits that the atmosphere in Limerick can’t be beaten.

“Playing in front of a full Thomond Park against Glasgow on my Champions Cup debut, it was absolutely incredible. I’ve experienced nothing like it. The atmosphere was insane.”

In the video, Sweetnam also speaks about how it’s been a great year for him personally as well as for Munster as a side, the competitiveness within the squad and how this year has been different to others.

“This year, more than past years, we’ve been playing with no fear. The coach gave us a licence to have a go so it’s a positive attitude to have. We just have a go, try offloads, and if it doesn’t come off, we get the next one.

“This year has been a great success, we’ve got further than we ever thought we would. So building on from here. I’ve signed a new contract so I’m looking forward to progress from this year and hopefully win a few trophies with Munster.

“Our main goal is to win the Pro12, and we have the home semi-final secured.

“But we’ll just take it each game at a time. We’ve a big game against Connacht at the weekend, they beat us in Thomond Park this time last year and they can run it from anywhere, and score tries from anywhere. It’s going to be a difficult task but we’ll be ready, and let’s get a win.”

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