PRIOR to the cessation of sport due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Innishannon’s Jack Crowley was enjoying a fine season on the rugby pitch.
Scorer of 38 points as he shone at out-half in Ireland’s opening three games in the U20 Six Nations Championship, Crowley had also helped Cork Constitution to the top of the All-Ireland League.
When the first-year UCC commerce student spoke to The Southern Star, the latest set of stringent limitations regarding the movement of people had yet to be announced and he was making the most of the opportunity for individual work, displaying the single-mindedness that has brought him to where he is.
‘You try to prepare as best as possible for games and training and all of that but it’s pretty hard to prepare for something like this,’ the 20-year-old said.
‘It’s a bit unusual at the moment alright. Funnily enough, it’s actually a great opportunity to be able to focus on yourself and to develop yourself a little bit.
‘It’s actually nice to be able to focus completely on yourself as much as possible. In that sense, it’s good but I’m not sure how long could do it, at the end of the day it’s a team sport.
‘Ultimately, you need to be with the team and training away, but for the moment it’s good. I’m doing my assignments and studying for the exams, whatever way they’ll be done, I’m not too sure what’s going to happen.
‘My brother’s in his final year and it’s a bit of a different scenario. I’m just getting started, you just get through the exams and pass.’
While those who have watched Crowley’s progress over the past number of years may not be too surprised at how well this season has gone for him, it wasn’t the case that he automatically expected things to fall into place.
‘No, not really,’ he said.
‘Not at all, to be honest. Going back to the Ireland U19s, I wasn’t even expecting to get on to that, or even with the Celtic Cup with Munster, I started a few games at 15.
‘I wasn’t really that sure how things would go, going in with the U20s and how we’d get on. I was not really thinking that any of this would happen, really.
‘It all fell into place nicely but I didn’t really expect it at all.’
Given that Munster have found out-half to be a troublesome spot in recent times, with Joey Carbery’s move from Leinster hampered by a series of injuries, many will look to Crowley as the heir apparent in that role. What makes his emergence all the more impressive is that fact that he only specialised in the position in the past two and a half years.
‘I started off in school at scrum-half, up until fourth year,’ he said.
‘Then in fifth year I played at 9 and 10 and in sixth year I was just a 10.
‘I played 15 for the majority of the Celtic Cup, just prior to the Six Nations. Playing in different positions does help alright in terms of understanding the game and that kind of stuff.’
Domestically, the league season has been cancelled, meaning that Crowley misses out on the opportunity to win an All-Ireland League medal, while the U20 Six Nations is in limbo for now. Nevertheless, Crowley’s impact has been so strong that he will be hot property when action resumes and he will be ready, whenever that is.
‘Obviously, things were going nicely with the U20s and Con,’ he said, ‘but you almost forget about it straightaway and move on to the next thing.
‘Right now, it’s just about preparing for whatever comes next, whenever that may be, it could be months away. Just being ready for that is the biggest thing at the moment.’