Ireland U20 star Finn Treacy. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

'The best decision for me' - Ireland U20 star flourishing after Connacht move

Finn Treacy says he has settled in well in Galway as he prepares to face England in the U20 Six Nations.

DESPITE BEING A newcomer to the grade, Finn Treacy has found himself surrounded by some familiar faces in the Ireland U20s squad throughout the course of this year’s Six Nations Championship.

A native of Wicklow, he got his second-level education at Presentation College Bray and represented the Putland Road outfit in the 2022 and 2023 editions of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup. While both of these campaigns ended in first round defeats, Treacy is one of three players off those Pres Bray sides to have made significant strides over the past 12 months.

Having already showcased their talents in the underage ranks of international rugby prior to this year, Treacy, Jack Murphy and Billy Corrigan were all included in the 31-strong Ireland squad that was unveiled for the 2024 U20 Six Nations Championship back in January.

This is quite an achievement for a school that isn’t regarded as being amongst the heavyweights in the Leinster Senior Cup and their triumvirate of past pupils have certainly made their presence felt in recent weeks. Treacy and Murphy have started successive Six Nations victories to date for the Ireland U20s over France, Italy and Wales, while Corrigan has come off the bench to help them see out each of these games.

“You’d be safe enough to say that is the first time in Pres that it has happened. Just looking at the jerseys round the school, obviously Ben Murphy [current Leinster scrum-half and older brother of Jack] doing it a few years before would have been a big inspiration. It’s definitely a huge moment for Pres,” Treacy remarked in a video call yesterday.

Of course, the Pres Bray connection in this Ireland U20s set-up goes beyond the squad itself as the team’s head coach Richie Murphy – father of Ben and Jack – is another ex-student of the school.

Yet while the Murphy brothers and Corrigan are all part of the Leinster system to some degree, last summer saw Treacy taking up an offer to become a Year One member of the Connacht Academy. After discussing terms with the province’s Academy Manager Eric Elwood (who previously guided the Green Army to an U20s Grand Slam in 2007) in the wake of Pres Bray’s exit from the Leinster Senior Cup last year, Treacy opted for a move down to Galway and he is thrilled with how things have gone to date in the west.

“That would have been after our Cup exit in March. He [Elwood] would have come down to Bray and had a chat about it. Ever since I moved there I haven’t looked back, it has been a great move. The staff in Connacht have been great and I have settled really well. I think it has been the best decision for me.”

This isn’t the only big decision that Treacy has had to make in the past few years, however, as rugby hasn’t always been his sole sport of choice. In addition to being vice-captain of the Wicklow minor footballers for their Leinster Championship campaign in 2021, he also lined out for the Garden County’s minor hurlers during the same period.

Although he could potentially have continued to excel in either of these codes, rugby has always been the main draw for Treacy.

“I always knew from a young age that rugby was the one. If I ever had to choose, if I had games on at the same time, I definitely would have always gone with the rugby. I would have always been more of a fan of watching it, the lads on the TV. Rugby was always the standout. It wasn’t too tough of a decision when it came to making it.”

Becoming an established figure for the Ireland U20s in this year’s Six Nations certainly suggests this was a wise decision on Treacy’s part.

He is set to don the number 14 jersey for the fourth game on the bounce tomorrow evening as Ireland take on England in a crunch showdown at the Recreation Ground in Bath.

Given they are the only undefeated sides in the tournament – England are a point ahead, though, while everyone else has lost at least two games to date – this tie is being billed as a potential title decider. Ireland are also just two wins away from achieving a third consecutive U20 Grand Slam, but Treacy and his international colleagues are trying their best to avoid thinking about the wider significance of this fixture.

“We are really game focused, there hasn’t been any talk of this being the game to decide it all. We know how big a game against England is, especially away in the Rec. We are just looking at this as Ireland against England and that is huge enough in itself,” Treacy added.

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