FOR talented Ireland U-20 centre Dan Goggin, it’s the season he doesn’t want to end.
Limerick teenager Goggin jetted out to New Zealand this week as part of the Irish U-20 squad which competes in the IRB Junior World Championship in Auckland.
The tournament begins for Ireland with a crucial opening group game against 6 Nations rivals France on this Bank Holiday Monday beginning at 6.35am Irish time. Ireland’s pool fixtures at the Junior World Championships are being televised live by TG4 and Sky Sports.
Dynamic centre Goggin, from Farranshone, made a major impact with Young Munster in Division 1A of the AIL this season, as well as featuring for Ireland U-20s through this season’s 6 Nations Championship. To top a superb season, Goggin received confirmation recently that he will move up from the Munster Sub-Academy to the province’s Academy next season.
Goggin is one of four Limerick-based players who have been included in Mike Ruddock’s Irish U-20s squad competing at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand. The quartet also includes Goggin’s Young Munster clubmate, Diarmuid Dee, as well as team captain Jack O’Donoghue, of UL-Bohemian, and Garryowen FC winger, Alex Wootton.
Dan Goggin’s rugby career began at UL-Bohemian where he’s granduncle had played. Goggin remained with the Annacotty club until this season when he moved to Young Munster.
Switch to the Backs
“Up to secondary school, I played in the forwards. Then when I went into secondary school at Ardscoil Ris, I moved to the backs.
“I moved to St Munchin’s College after third year. I didn’t really like playing in the forwards at the time. I was turned into a second row at times with UL-Bohs. I was more often in the back row. I felt I would have a flair for the backs and wanted to play there.
“We got to the semi-final of the Junior Cup with Ardscoil Ris when i was in third year. We would have had one of the best teams in it.
“In first year and second year we won every game we played, but we lost the semi-final to CBC by a try.
“I played Senior Cup for three years at St Munchin’s. In my second year playing Senior Cup, we got to the final, losing 6-5 to Rockwell. We beat PBC in the semi-final in Cork. Losing the final by a point still haunts me. We had a try not awarded which we felt was a certain try. We felt we should have won it.
“Their love of the game at St Munchin’s is just unbelievable. Everyone plays out there. I definitely think my love of the game grew in St Munchin’s. I began to appreciate the game a lot more.”
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted in the U-20s inter-pros last autumn, but we still very close in all the games.
“I got dropped at the death to make the Irish U-19s match day squads. I felt if I was given a chance at Irish U-20s level to show myself that I could make it. If I didn’t make it after getting the chance, then so be it.”
“Making the Irish U-20s squad for the Six Nations was very pleasing. It was a process, making the trials, making the squad, making the match day squad for the Six Nations matches and then getting to start the last three matches. I took it step by step.
“My first AIL match in 1A for Young Munster last October, I was thrown in at the deep end against St Mary’s up in Dublin.
“I remember it being a very physical game. But I always felt I could cope with it. I dunno how. I coped with it.
“I played the first nine games in the year with Kolio Hifo. Then I was unavailable because I was involved with Ireland in the 6 Nations before being involved in some more AIL games at the end.
“Playing with Kolio was a pleasure. We had a great partnership from the start. To learn off a Southern Hemisphere player, I felt I was really safe. He is such a big unit, he carries so well.
“The opportunity I was given by Young Munster to play AIL 1A week in and week out was huge. I don’t think I would have made the Irish U-20s squad without them. My performances would have been viewed a lot on video by the likes of Mike Ruddock (Irish U-20s coach) and that helped me.
The 6 Nations
“With Ireland in the U-20s 6 Nations, we were good enough to win more games, but didn’t quite manage it. The French game summed it up really. There were so many chances we let go.
“I didn’t start the early games in the 6 Nations, but was first choice at 13 for the last three matches. In the England game, he felt I did well and he retained me at number 13.
“Even if you think you have done well in the 6 Nations, you can never be sure you are in the squad for the Junior World Championships. After the 6 Nations there was a trial game for players who were not involved in the squad then. Luckily, I didn’t have to go to that trial. That was the first time I realised that might be in my favour, I might be in the squad for New Zealand.
“We get told by e-mail if we are in the squad. If we don’t make it, Mike would ring us and tell you why. I see Greig Oliver (Ireland U-20 assistant coach and Munster Elite Player Development Officer) around a lot as well. I get on very well with him and he could keep me in the loop, tell me what I need to work away on.
“I am involved with the Munster Academy. Last Friday was our final day of the season.
“I got promoted from Sub-Academy to the Academy for next season. It’s brilliant. I got a three-year contract. It is great to know you have another three years to push on.
New Zealand Calling
“It was a great e-mail to read that you are going to New Zealand. I have never played rugby outside of Europe before.”
“To go to New Zealand to play in the Junior World Championships – the greatest rugby power in the world – is a brilliant opportunity. It’s a country that eats, sleeps and breathes rugby. It is such a huge part of their culture.
“It’s brilliant to have four Limerick-based guys involved in the squad this time.
“Myself and Diarmuid Dee are good friends. He wasn’t in the squad for the 6 Nations, but is involved for the World Championships.
“He only got back from injury towards the end of the season, did well with Munsters’, got called in for a trial with the Irish U-20s and made the squad. It is good to have one of your best friends in the squad as well.”
“We have our biggest game first up against France on Monday. We know what they are like. We know who we have to target on their team. That will be our biggest game.
“If we can get over that hurdle I think we can really push on to win the group and make a Cup semi-final. Last year Ireland beat Australia in the group stages of this competition and the previous year Ireland beat South Africa in the group. It would be a big ask to win the Cup, knowing what teams are out there. You never know.
“I couldn’t have had a better year this year really. I want to better that next year even though there is no Irish set-up for me in age grade. I want to break into the Munster A side. If that doesn’t happen for me, I will go after it again the following year.”