Sweetnam happy pursuing dream

Darren Sweetnam had a tinge of regret last Saturday as he contemplated a lost opportunity when Cork took to the field for the All-Ireland final.

Sweetnam happy pursuing dream

However, it was only for a few minutes.

“Of course you would, you do miss it a bit and particularly when you consider Cork got to an All-Ireland final,” the former inter-county senior hurler said.

“It would have been lovely to maybe be involved in that, but I’m happy with my decision.

“Jimmy Barry Murphy is a huge figure and it was great to have been given the opportunity to work with him and with Ger Cunningham too, great guys, and whilst I was as disappointed as anyone I figure Cork can bounce back.

“There’s plenty of youth on board now and the experience of participating in two All-Ireland finals in the one year will surely give them a platform to come back stronger next year.”

Sweetnam will not be one of them though. He dreams of rugby and last week after the Croke Park classic he was experiencing a new challenge in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League with Dolphin.

Things have moved fast for the Dunmanway native following his decision to put hurling, hockey and badminton on the back-burner to embrace professional rugby with Munster.

He has had a year with UCC in the lower divisions of Irish club rugby, had game time with Munster A and played with Ireland U20s at the World Cup.

Not bad for a 20-year-old still learning his trade.

But the biggest effort has gone into bulking up. He has put on eight kilos and wants another five or so to put him into what he describes as his ideal physical framework.

His strong points, he says, are his ability to take on opponents and beat them with speed and an ability to change pace. His weakness, he admits, could be his defensive positioning.

Sweetnam is driven to succeed though. He left a business course in UCC to study Recreation and Leisure in CIT to allow him more time to concentrate on the game.

His priority is to get more experience in the back three. Some rate him more highly as a winger but he would like to chip in at full-back too.

“Yeah, full-back would be my favourite for sure, but these days you need to be able to play in more than one position,” he said.

“If you want to play full-back you also certainly need to be able to play on the wing as well, and it wouldn’t worry me what wing. I suppose left would be preferable but it wouldn’t really matter.”

Role model? He mentioned Denis Hickie, the former Leinster and Ireland winger, but then mentioned his admiration for barely older Munster colleague Simon Zebo.

“I’d look up to him [Zebo] because if you look at his progress it has been phenomenal really; he has gone from Munster U20s and Ireland U20s for a couple of years, straight from that to Munster A. Then he just lit up the Munster scene and didn’t look back and he’s a Lion now.”

A week after helping Dolphin secure a smashing Ulster Bank victory away to Garryowen last week, Sweetnam hopes to take another major step when his new club hosts St Mary’s College at Musgrave Park tomorrow (2.30pm).

Ulster Bank League preview

Ulster Bank League champions Lansdowne will have an even better idea of the challenge they face this season in an attempt to defend their crown when they take on Cork Constitution at Temple Hill today (2.30pm).

It should be an interesting afternoon considering the outcome of results last weekend when Lansdowne disappointed at home to newly promoted UCD and Constitution did well to secure an away victory against Ballynahinch. An added value to the interest could be the return to Temple Hill of Scott Deasy with his new club.

Two of the leading contenders form last season, Clontarf and Garryowen, battle it out at Castle Avenue and the home side will feel more comfortable in the build up to this one, having narrowly lost away to Old Belvedere last week while Garryowen were badly beaten by Dolphin.

Quite a few people see UCD as potential challengers for the title, all the more so after they comfortably beat the defending champions and they did so despite having three players sin-binned in the opening half.

Young Munster made a great start with an away win over St Mary’s and now enjoy home advantage over Ballynahinch.

Promoted to Division 1B, Terenure have made the perfect start ,a bonus point victory over UL Bohemians and they take on old Dublin rivals Blackrock. Following Rock’s victory over Shannon in Limerick, this could well be the match of the day.

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