‘YOU CAN SEE A CLEAR PATHWAY FROM THE ACADEMY’ – Comerford

Control the controllables.

It’s a phrase that has snuck its way into the lexicon of many players and coaches the world over as they emphasise that planning and preparation is always the key to their next game.

Niall Comerford, a winger in his first year with the Leinster Rugby Academy, is a glowing example of how to keep pushing on when the ‘uncontrollables’ try and disrupt your plans and ambitions.

At just 20 years of age, the Shankill native has already had an impressive sporting career at club, school, county, and provincial level.

But, there’s been some disruption along the way. Three separate events stick out, a broken wrist, being part of the ‘2000-born’ group who missed out on an inter-county championship, and now, Covid-19.

Gaelic football was his first love, a member of the Kilmacud Crokes club, he would go on to represent Dublin at underage level, lining out at midfield in the 2017 U-17 Leinster Final defeat to Meath.

It would be a disappointing note to bow out of his inter-county football career with but, he admits, the call to join Leinster Rugby was too good to turn down.

“I’d been playing since I was five, hurling and Gaelic with Kilmacud. I got to play with Dublin underage from U-13 to U-17,” Comerford explains.

“Unfortunately, we missed out – my year, the 2000s – on minor. I really loved it but it was difficult playing hurling, Gaelic and rugby at the same time.

“When hurling and Gaelic finish around October, I could go back to rugby, it was great having sport all year round. It worked well during the school years.

“But then, making the step up to Leinster, I had to make a decision whether or not to go with Gaelic or rugby. I made the decision to go with rugby and I’ve been very happy with it.”