Success or failure in sport is all about small margins. Success demands excellence in all aspects of a player’s life, on and off the field. That’s why successful sports people need great support and backing away from the pitch in order to be successful on it.
One highly promising sportsman that has all the credentials to be hugely successful on the rugby pitch in the years ahead is Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue (21) from Woodstown and with the support of a great family and friends, the rugby lovers of Waterford and backers like George Corbett of George Corbett Motors.
Jack has become a brand ambassador for Seat and this week he collected his brand new Seat from George Corbett Motors and we were there to meet him.
As a keen sports fan, George Corbett, is thrilled to welcome Jack on board as a Seat brand ambassador.
“Seat have an association with Munster already so it was only fitting that we tie that in with a great local talent, like Jack. We’ve always been involved in supporting local sport and local sporting talent. We’ve been the main sponsor of Ballygunner GAA for the past five years. We’ve been involved in sponsorship with Waterpark RFC and are also involved in Bohemians FC. As a brand ambassador we want Jack to boost the profile of the Seat brand here in Waterford and throughout Munster but also to back him as a local sportsman and hopefully we can help in some small way towards him going very far in his chosen sport of rugby. We also have plans, with Jack, to run some rugby camps here in Waterford, down the road, to help encourage the next generation of Waterford rugby players to follow in Jack’s footsteps,” said George Corbett.
It must be great too for Jack to be supported by the likes of George Corbett and the people of Waterford, every step of the way in his career. “Absolutely, it’s great. George has been really good to me and I appreciate what he does for me. I’ve known him for a long time through Waterpark RFC and Ballygunner GAA and it’s brilliant to know you have people like this backing you. It’s great to come back to Waterford and for people stop me on the street and say well done and tell me that they’re following my progress and I’m delighted to be flying the Waterford flag and I know it’s only a matter of time before there’s more young Waterford players knocking on the door for Munster.”
Jack was recently rewarded with a new three year Munster contract.“I’m in my last year of the Academy so I’ve been pressing to get into the senior setup so when Munster came to me and offered a three year contract, that’s something you can’t turn down. To play with the province you grew up in is a dream come true and I’m absolutely delighted to have signed up for three more years.”
Trying to make your way as a professional sportsman and attempting to break into the Munster first team squad is a big enough deal for any young man but Jack is also currently juggling his Munster career with full-time study.
“Yeah as well training and playing full-time with Munster, I’m also in my final year in college at the University of Limerick, so it’s a balancing act okay but thankfully it’s all going well enough at the moment. I’m due to get my Christmas results next week so I’ll get back to you then to confirm it’s still going well but hopefully I can see out the last few months of my course, do well in my finals and then push on with the rugby.”
That can’t be an easy balancing act?
“Yeah it’s pretty full-on alright, that’s for sure. Basically if I’m not on the training field with Munster or playing matches, I’m at a lecture or in the UL library trying to catch up. It’s not easy but thankfully I’m managing it alright at the moment at least.”
Since the start of the season Jack has broken into the Munster first team panel, made his Pro12 debut against Zebre and also captained the Munster team throughout the British & Irish Cup campaign. These performances have led to high praise from many quarters, including Munster head coach, Anthony Foley, and forwards coach and B&I Cup coach, Mick O’Driscoll. Such praise must be great to hear from such Munster legends?
“It’s a great boost for me, confidence wise and it’s great going forward for Munster and I’m happy to part of it for the years ahead.
Since coming back from captaining Ireland at the U-20 Rugby World Cup, Jack’s rise in the Munster ranks has been meteoric, has it even surprised him how quickly it’s happened?
“It has come as a bit of shock to be honest. I got in through a few lads being injured and I got my chance to make by PRO12 debut and I took it and then the following week I got another chance so I was very grateful for that and since then I’ve just been biding my time, keeping my head down and working on improving every aspect of my game and see where it takes me.”
Further proof of how highly rated the young Woodstown man is at Munster is that he captained the B&I Cup team throughout their season, aged just 20 for most of it.
“It was a great experience to be chosen to lead the B&I Cup team in my first full season with the senior squad. It was a great honour and I really learned so much from it, it was a great learning curve that will definitely help me going forward.”
For a young number eight, like Jack, it must be great to be working every day with the likes of Anthony Foley, CJ Stander, Robin Copeland and Peter O’Mahony.
“Absolutely. It’s great to be able to pick their brains and just get their views on what they would do in a certain situations and with different skills be it controlling the ball at the base of the scrum or maul or whatever so yeah definitely it’s very beneficial to be surrounded by so many great players and coaches in my position.”
So what are the goals for the remainder of the 2014/15 season?
“Well apart from the exams…unfortunately we got knocked out of the B&I Cup so all my focus now is on training as hard as I can, trying to impress Axel (Anthony Foley) as best as I can and hopefully get another few chances with the first team in the PRO12 before the end of the season. With so many players involved with Ireland over the coming weeks, these are the times that the younger players really see as their chance to stake their claims, and I’m no different.”