FORMER Clonakilty RFC player Cian Hurley became the first West Cork man to captain a Munster team in the professional era recently.
The 19-year-old University of Limerick student lasted only ten minutes captaining Munster Development during their 43-27 loss to Ireland U20 at Musgrave Park before having to retire injured with a concussion.
Yet, that disappointment couldn’t detract from what was a marvellous 2019 for the up-and-coming Garryowen and Irish youths rugby international.
Residing in Clonakilty with parents Eoin and Catherine plus older sister Kate, Cian Hurley was born in South Africa. He spent his formative years in Johannesburg where his parents moved to work before returning to West Cork when their son turned 13.
‘I started playing rugby at the age of eight when my family and I lived in South Africa,’ Hurley told The Southern Star.
‘It wasn’t until my family moved back to Ireland and I started representing Clonakilty at U13 and U14 that I began taking my rugby seriously. Coming to live in Ireland wasn’t a problem because my new friends made it such an easy transition. Going to Scoil na mBuachaillí and having Barth Harrington looking after me also made things easy.’
Further enhancing his skills whilst a student at Christians Brothers in Cork, it wasn’t long before a first taste of schools’ international rugby quickly followed.
‘I progressed on to the Munster club system one I had finished playing with Clonakilty,’ Hurley explained.
‘Although a bit young at the time, I trained with the Munster U18 Clubs’ squad which was a brilliant experience. Christians Brothers in Cork approached around that time and I moved up there to play with them in 2016. Following that, I transferred over to the Munster U18 Schools where I played for a couple of years and captained the side.
‘In fifth year, I played Senior Cup with Christians where we were unlucky to lose the final to Glenstals (Glentsal Abbey) who won it for the first time that year. Things just continued from there when I played for the Irish U18 Schools on a ten-day tour to Wales. I was lucky enough to win the Senior Cup with Christians in sixth year.’
Moving from Clonakilty to Garryowen RFC, Hurley remained a regular Irish U18 international over the past two years and is hoping to cement his place in the upcoming Irish U20 Six Nations squad. 2020 is also a U20 World Cup year so there is plenty at stake for the highly regarded back row over the coming months.
‘It was only the Friday before our match with the Ireland U20s that I found out I was captaining the Munster Development team,’ admitted the former Clonakilty RFC back row.
‘Head of the Munster Academy Peter Malone came up to me and said they thought I was the man for the job, and I should take on the captaincy role for that game. Obviously, I was absolutely delighted.
‘Coming out of last summer, I featured for Munster A but right now, all of my focus is on the upcoming U20 Six Nations. You can only hope that you’d be involved but I’ll know in the next week or two if I have made the squad. Looking further ahead, the U20 World Cup takes place in Italy next July and that is something I am also aiming for.
‘It is nice to have targets like those in the back of your head when you are training with Munster and playing senior club games for Garryowen.’
Hurley has already made his presence felt at club, provincial and international youth level. The likeable back row is ready to make the next step in his career having honed his craft on the streets of Johannesburg before emerging from the Clonakilty RFC underage ranks.