Versatile Ireland U20s forward Brian Deeny has said that regular exposure to the All-Ireland League has helped him to prepare for the rough and tumble of underage international rugby.
The Wexford native has featured prominently for north Dublin club Clontarf over the past two seasons and was a part of their matchday squad for last May’s showpiece final defeat to Cork Constitution.
“When you’re playing U20s, you’re playing against huge lads. Some teams like Cork Con, Garryowen and Lansdowne, they’ve huge players. To get yourself ready physically against them, for the U20s level ahead, it really does help,” Deeny explained.
“It’s very fast. The quality of rugby would be very close to some of the Ireland U20s games. It would be a very high standard.”
Like fellow Slaneysider Tadhg Furlong, Deeny comes from a strong GAA background. A former pupil of St Peter’s College, he represented the purple and gold in Gaelic football at minor level as recently as 2017.
Given rugby is largely conspicuous by its absence in Peter’s, it was through his local club Wexford Wanderers that Deeny first came to prominence. He admits he had to produce an extra effort in order to gain recognition at the representative grades.
“I suppose when you’re coming out of the club system, you probably wouldn’t be as recognised or acknowledged as some of the schools’ lads. I got dropped, I never played U18 Schools or U18 Clubs and Schools.
Things like that drive you on because you’re more jealous of the lads who got the opportunity. It pushes you a bit more.
All of his hard work came to fruition in 2019, when he played his part in the Ireland U20s’ magnificent Grand Slam success. He is one of seven survivors from last year’s squad, all of whom are set to feature in tomorrow’s Championship opener against Scotland at Musgrave Park (kick-off 7.15pm).
Despite having experience in the competition, Deeny feels the new additions to the set-up are more than capable of fending for themselves.
“There’s no huge responsibility on the shoulders of any of the lads that were here last year, because everyone is taking the weight off it.
“We’ve not forgotten about last year, it’s still in the back of our minds. We’re just focusing on ourselves this year and focusing on what we can do, how our Six Nations campaign is going to go,” Deeny added.