Munster Rugby are hoping Cork senior hurler Darren Sweetnam can make as big an impact with the oval ball as he has this summer with a sliotar.
Nine days after appearing off the bench at Croke Park in Cork’sAll-Ireland SHC semi-final against Galway, the 19-year-old rising GAA star was patrolling the wing at Musgrave Park as Munster Rugby’s U20s geared up for next month’sinterprovincials with a 15-7 victory over Italy on Tuesday night.
It was Sweetnam’s first rugby outing since the spring as his focus switched to hurling with the Bandon Grammar School student and Doheny’s GAA clubman gaining plaudits as a talent to watch on Jimmy Barry Murphy’s inter-county panel. Munster would like the teenager, who has also represented Ireland at hockey at U16 level, to give rugby a shot but their U20 head coach Greig Oliver told the Irish Examiner it would be a softly softly approach.
"Darren’s in a unique situation. He’s a great hurler and he’s equally adept at rugby and hockey as well and so we’re not putting pressure on him as to whether he can make it or not.
"That was his first game for a while because of his hurling commitments and we were just trying to see how he has progressed but he’s certainly on the radar because he’s got that talent and his running ability is fantastic. Obviously he will have to make a decision one of these days and hopefully he’ll be given the chance to have a real go at (rugby). But he’s obviously good at hurling so we’ll see how it goes."
Sweetnam could feature in Monday night’s U20 friendly against a Sale Sharks academy team in Manchester and Oliver would like the wing to be available for the interpros, which begin on September 7 when Munster entertain Connacht at Musgrave Park.
"We don’t want to put any kind of pressure on him at all. We knew how important it was for him to play (hurling) this year and so he did just a few sessions with us and he didn’t take too much on.
"Tuesday night was his first game in four or five months and he did well so hopefully he’ll be available (for the Interpros). He gets on with people, he’s got the ability, he likes the ball in his hands and goes looking for it so he’s got a good appetite for the game. So we’ll see how he progresses in Sale and take it from there."