Jordan Conroy on the chat with a local Garda that changed his sporting life 6 months ago

Jordan Conroy on the chat with a local Garda that changed his sporting life

It could have been athletics or football, but rugby proved the winner after an extremely late dash.

Whether it was running for Tullamore College, his school, or the local Tullamore Harriers, Jordan Conroy always had pace to burn. He has a couple of All-Ireland titles for sprinting and was the lad to watch at the big meets.

Like most of us, Conroy was mad into a range of sports, growing up. It initially looked as though athletics would be the sporting path he would beat, but football was never far away. He played for Dublin I.T then was signed up by Athlone Town while he also made League of Ireland appearances for St Pat's.

And then came rugby. He had dabbled a bit in school but his commitments to football and athletics prevented him being a regular. "Before the rugby, I really wanted to play football, but it is a bit of a cut-throat industry... I really didn't start rugby until the age of 18," Conroy says.

Once he had a run at it, he found the sport growing on him. He had speed and decent foot-work but there was so much more to learn.

The Offaly native recently returned from the Hong Kong Sevens, where he helped Ireland qualify for the World Series. From the front room of his family home, Conroy told Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 41:00 below] about his sporting journey thus far.

"I came home for a few celebrations," he told Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble. "It didn't disappoint anyway... I haven't slept over the weekend at all!"

Before he was pressed for details on globe-trotting with the Sevens team and attending lush pool parties, Conroy was asked to go back to when rugby started looking like a career option.

"I really didn't start rugby until the age of 18," he said. "I actually think I started playing for fun, just a little bit of tag or whatnot, because I wasn't really that much into rugby back then.

"Out of that, the captain of my hometown, Tullamore Rugby Club, said to me - 'You have to come up to senior rugby training, and I'm not taking no for an answer'.

"He was a garda and everything, so I was like, 'Okay, yeah, fine. I'll see you Tuesday!'

"And I went on to play [for them]. With each training session and each match - and after four years there - I really started taking to liking rugby. And then, from there on, I didn't play in any schools, so it was just my home club.

"Then, the big move was, after four years, I moved to Buccaneers in Athlone and played in 1B. That's when I started, you know, really started playing better opposition and wanting to go further with it. Then from the Buccaneers, I got into the Connacht academy and then the Sevens came calling. And, literally, the rest is history."

Conroy blazed in 18 tries in one season (2016/17) with Buccaneers and was presented with the Ulster Bank League 1B Player of the Year award by none other than Joe Schmidt.

He has played 15s rugby for Connacht Eagles but Ireland Sevens coach Anthony Eddy felt he was perfect for that format and brought him into his squad. It has proved an inspired move as Conroy has blazed in try after try.

Ireland, like many other top sides, have a designated flyer (or two, if lucky) in their team. Conroy is Ireland's no-so-secret weapon.

"Our saying is, 'We need to earn the right to move it wide'. But, yeah, if there is space on the wing, give it to the pace-man."

It is a tactic that is working wonders for Ireland and Conroy is relishing going up against the likes of Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa on a regular basis.

Now that Ireland have qualified for the World Series, they will be full members of a tour that takes in cities such as Dubai, Vancouver, London, Wellington, Sydney and more.

"Being able to visit all these great places in the world is absolutely amazing. It's such an incredible atmosphere at all these tournaments. It's crazy and there is such a lot of love for the Irish people, which I really like to see.

"It's just like a celebration at these tournaments, and that's what I love. Love meeting the people and love meeting the fans, and I'm so glad we finally made it."