Gruesome Twosome is a fitting title for this front row combination, but off the pitch it most certainly is not the case.
Young Tadgh Mc Elroy and Stephen McGivern came bouncing in like a breath of fresh air for their interviews, just two days after securing their final interprovincial victory over Munster. The newly crowned U18’s club’s Interpro champions were delighted to chat about their success and start to the rugby season.
To my surprise, when everyone else was sauntering back to pre-season training the U18’s were already several weeks at it. Pre-season started in May and they have been in training and preparation all summer.
“We were training three to four days a week in Terenure for preseason. The gym work was every day with fitness on Fridays in 30 degree heat. They ran the hell out of us,” said Stephen.
“Our coach Dan Van Zil, is a backs man, he loves the fancy work and ball handling was a really focus,” addedTadgh.
“I sensed as forwards the focus fancy work wasn’t really their desired area of rugby but Stephen was quick to state the importance of it: “You have to be a good rugby player; it’s not only about size or weight but you need to be skilful in any position.”
Listening to their training regime at just 17, I was quick to draw attention to the diet that must go along with such rigorous training.
“I eat everything,” stated Stephen. For Tadgh its “lots of protein, you must watch your weight that you don’t lose weight during the season.”
Leinster had a decisive win over Munster, but I was far more interested in how Dundalk’s front row got on. Tadgh, who suffered an ankle injury just before the season kicked off, slowly came back into the fold while Stephen was available for selection throughout.
The lads were quick to highlight the highly competitive nature of the game at this level. Both featured more coming off the bench, a difficult task for impatient young men. Even at this level it appears to be fiercely competitive.
“The team would be picked after that performance each week, you could be starting on reserves then maybe get on,” Tadgh said.
“The level of competition was high, with limited feedback you don’t know you are going down, until you are down,” added Stephen.
It was fairly evident that the two lads literally eat, sleep, train, repeat, which is seldom the case for most 17-year-olds. I asked about the rugby life balance: “I forget who my friends are,” laughed Stephen. Luckily the Leinster squad is like their second home; they are a really tight group of mates. “It’s just like being out on the street with your friends except it’s the team you have spent the past two years with,” Tadgh offered.
Both lads were quick to add that the Leinster set-up is second to none, that they are getting excellent coaching and medical support to insure that their overall health and fitness is maintained.
Following the interview word came through that Tadgh and Stephen clearly had impressed as both made it onto the U19 Ireland club’s squad. An incredible story of dedication and hard work for Dundalk RFC’s Gruesome Twosome.