Cronin eyes first Ireland cap to crown breakthrough season

Munster prop James Cronin is hoping to crown a remarkable breakthrough season by winning his first Irish cap in Argentina in the next few weeks.

Cronin eyes first Ireland cap to crown breakthrough season

This time last year the Cork man had just two appearances off the bench for Munster but is now on the cusp of getting his first Irish cap.

And if the 23-year old, one of four uncapped players in the squad for the two-match tour, is selected then it will be particularly special as the Ballincollig man has never played for Ireland at any grade.

He has come through a different route from junior rugby with Ballincollig RFC to Highfield and then to Dolphin and his performances in the All-Ireland League did not go unnoticed and he was drafted into the Munster academy.

Cronin was Academy player of the year 12 months ago and was content with his lot, having made his Pro12 debut off the bench against Leinster.

“But then it really took off me at the start of this season. I had to be patient and wait for my opportunity but when it came it worked out and it has been a great season. I had played youths and underage for Munster but never got called into any Irish squad so it was the crowning glory on this season when I got the call-up.

“I had never been in an Irish camp until last week but I just want to get my head down now, learn everything I can and take any opportunity that comes my way.

“The fact so much has happened in the past 12 months has made it a bit easier to get used to being involved in the Irish set-up. It was all new for me with Munster and now it is just the same all over again,” he said.

Cronin was given his chance by Rob Penney and Anthony Foley in pre-season and he took it with open arms and crowned his first competitive start for Munster with a try against Edinburgh in September.

He hasn’t looked back since, going on to make his Heineken Cup debut and notching up 26 appearances, despite battling with Dave Kilcoyne for the loosehead spot all season.

“We ended up sharing the position and it has worked very well and it is great that ‘Killer’ is in the squad going to Argentina as well.

“Getting selected for the squad was a great way to finish this season but of course you now want to go another step and get that cap. Hopefully, it will work out,” added Cronin.

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