Bryan Keane/INPHO
Kicking Machine

'I'm 22, I hope the door isn't shut': Cork Con star Quinlan eager to get back into pro game

The out-half was released from Munster’s academy last year, but showed his prowess off the tee in the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

CORK CON OUT-HALF Tomás Quinlan does a fine job of remaining unfazed even when chaos swirls around him.

The former Munster academy prospect was named man-of-the-match yesterday as his club bridged a seven-year wait for the Ulster Bank League title, his left boot providing 20 points in the 25 – 21 win over Clontarf.

Backed into a huddle of journalists in the Aviva Stadium tunnel, team-mates made sure to stop and eyeball Quinlan on their way to the dressing room. They tried to put him off: a trophy on the head and an outstretched tongue, a bellowing roar of ‘Mossy Quinlan, look at the size of the balls on him!’ The 10 just would not crack.

Fitting enough, given that he was flawless off the tee, nervelessly nailing seven kicks from seven.

“There was a temptation to go for the corner,” says Quinlan of his 100% ratio, “but it’s a final and you’re kicking all year for those scenarios and you have to back yourself when they come up. If you don’t back yourself, you might as well not be there.”

The 22-year-old certainly made his presence felt, and went a long way to erasing the pain of last year’s final defeat to the same opposition. What won’t be struck off though, is Quinlan’s desire to get back on track to a professional career. The former CBC pupil impressed in his cameos for Ireland U20 two summers ago, but was released from the Munster academy after last season. Surely his clutch kicking is a skill that could be put to use by any Pro12 side?

“You saw what happened to Joey (Carbery) last year and Sweets (Darren Sweetnam). I have played with both and they are top class players. They took their opportunity last year and it has put them onto bigger and better things. Maybe this will open up a door; that is out of my control. I have done as much as I can.

I absolutely would love to play professionally, I have always wanted to play professionally and I’m only 22, so I hope the door isn’t shut.”

And rather than pump a fist at anyone who may have doubted  his ability, Quinlan simply takes pride in being able to turn pressure into points for his team.

“I don’t think I was going out there with the intention of proving Munster wrong. They have their reasons and whether they are right or wrong they have the final say. I just have to accept that, keep the head down and work.

Rory Burke celebrates Rory Burke celebrates as Con hoist the trophy. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“When you kick your goals and play the way you’re expected (to) it does feel good. Nothing spiteful, you are doing it for the boys around you. I put those balls over the bar for those lads, the 23 or 30 in the panel. It’s just the best feeling I have ever had.”

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