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Fineen Wycherley blazing a trail and putting Bantry on the rugby map

The Ireland U20s second row has come along way to represent his hometown on the international stage.

WHEN YOU THINK of rugby strongholds, West Cork doesn’t instantly spring to mind but Fineen Wycherley is putting his hometown of Bantry on the map with his performances in green.

Fineen Wycherley Ryan Byrne / INPHO Wycherley starts for Ireland U20s against Italy tomorrow night. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The Ireland U20s second row made his international debut in last week’s victory over Scotland and will tomorrow night partner Oisin Dowling as Nigel Carolan’s men look to make it two from two in this Six Nations.

Wycherley was singled out for praise by Carolan last week and it was certainly a proud moment for the Munster academy forward, his family and the whole community.

Having worked his way up through the provincial underage systems, it was only a matter of time before the 19-year-old (he also played GAA for St Colum’s until he was 16) earned further recognition and he cites the decision to move school as the catalyst.

“For me it was massive because I actually grew up down in West Cork and my local club was Bantry,” he says of boarding in Cistercian College Roscrea in fifth and sixth year.

“It was a small enough club with a tight enough group of us who used to turn up to training. My grandfather went to Roscrea so when I came to fifth and sixth year I wanted to play rugby at a higher level so we decided on Roscrea and luckily enough we got the win the first year I went.

“My father Florence was big into rugby. He was from Skibbereen and my mother is from Bantry. Dad played underage with Skibbereen all the way up and when we moved to Bantry himself and a few of the other lads were the guys who set up the underage. My older brothers were young at the time and they wanted to get into it because Dad was playing it.

“I really wanted to push on. I was really enjoying the rugby but, unfortunately, at my age group there wasn’t enough interest for matches and training and I just thought to push on I had to go somewhere else and play a higher standard of rugby.

Fineen Wycherley and Keith Earls Ryan Byrne / INPHO The second row training with Keith Earls at UL. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“Just even being in the school itself was a big help to me, even with the training every day and the gym and all that. There was high quality coaches and the facilities were excellent. It was an easy way to push on and improve.”

In his first year at Roscrea, Wycherley played a key role in the school’s first Leinster Senior Cup triumph and certainly the decision to leave home for Offaly was justified. But, for whatever reason, international honours at U18 and U19 level didn’t arrive and he was forced to play the waiting game.

“Yeah, look, I had a few injuries or whatever and I fell just short at 19s. In 18s I just never really broke into an Irish team, until now. That was a big goal for me coming out of 19s and not having made that team. Lucky enough I got the cap.”

It’s onwards and upwards from here for Wycherley, representing Ireland, Munster and Bantry.

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