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From Exile to Ireland U20: McNulty another example of IQ recruitment value

Born and raised in Bath, the exciting Connacht back is set to aid Ireland in the U20 Six Nations

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MOVING FROM ENGLAND’S West Country to the West of Ireland carries an inherent culture shock.

However, after a natural initial struggle with homesickness after leaving family ties in England, Oran McNulty is feeling very much at home.

The 19-year-old is in his second year with Connacht’s academy and is one of the latest rugby prospects to emerge on these shores after being recruited through IRFU’s IQ Rugby system.

IQ Rugby aims to identify Irish-qualified talent based away from these shores. And McNulty, whose grandparents hail from Mayo and Limerick, ticked all the boxes as he rose through the ranks with Bath.

Indeed, even before that. While a student at Millfield school, McNulty regularly represented the Exiles.

“I got into the schools and club sides to play England at Ashbourne,” McNulty recalls as his first national recognition.

“We (the Exiles) did a tour of Ireland in my second last year of school and we were undefeated in that. I got picked up by Connacht (after) playing against Connacht in the Sportsground.”

oran-mcnulty-crosses-the-line-to-score-a-try McNulty crosses for Ireland U18 clubs and schools against England in Ashbourne. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Eric Elwood and this year’s U20 assistant coach Colm Tucker helped sway McNulty west and he is now delighted to call Salthill home.

“It’s very different from back home, but other than the weather it’s brilliant. The people are lovely and I have really settled in well over there.

“It was tough. I have got a big family so leaving the family and everything was tough in the first few weeks. But I settled in nicely. I made a lot of friends. A lot of my friends from England visited over so I still have connections through there.

“It is very a family-orientated club. They are aware of where people have come from. They do put the family before anything else which is a great ethos in the club. That is why I enjoy being there a lot.”

An explosive fullback, McNulty is an impressive athlete who excelled at swimming and hockey while at school. He has already been a successful addition to Ireland age grade Sevens sides in recent years before committing to a 15-a-side deal with Connacht.

oran-mcnulty McNulty on duty with Connacht Eagles. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With a young crop of backs, head coach Noel McNamara will hope the relatively experienced McNulty can marshal Ireland’s back-line when they kick off their Six Nations campaign at home to Scotland in Cork next Friday.

“I still have to push on and earn my spot,” says McNulty, whose younger brother Finn is still playing in Bath colours.

“So hopefully I will be involved now. I am very looking forward to putting on the green jersey.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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