Eoin O'Malley on life at the centre of Leinster
Up and coming Leinster centre Eoin Oâ€™Malley talks about scoring his first try, keeping a place on the team and life in the massage room during his extended period of injury.
A late surge against Llanelli Scarlets in last Fridayâ€™s frosty Magners League match over in South Wales was enough to get a draw for Leinster, but was just too late to secure a win for the boys in blue.
The game did, however, see Eoin Oâ€™Malley score his first try for the visitors. It was a breakthrough moment for the 22-year-old centre who has been in a position to learn from the likes of Oâ€™Driscoll and Dâ€™Arcy as heâ€™s done his bit to work his way into the first XV.
â€œIt was nice to get it out of the way, alright,â€ says Eoin, speaking at the Grafton Street launch of Champion Sports' new retail partnership with Leinster rugby on Monday. â€œNot that I had to do a whole lot for it. You donâ€™t want to be the lad whoâ€™s got fifty caps but who hasnâ€™t got a try.
â€œI donâ€™t think anyone was thrilled with the result, to be honest. I suppose a lot of us are feeling lucky, on one hand, to get a draw, but on the other hand weâ€™re disappointed not to have pushed on to get the win.
â€œThe Scarlets are a very strong team at the moment who are playing great rugby, and obviously playing them at home in those conditions was very difficult.
With Brian Oâ€™Driscoll looking unfit to play against Clermont on Sunday, last Friday's game gave a chance for Eoin to prove himself ahead of what promises to be a big match. If he is selected, Sunday's game will be his biggest club game to date.
â€œI suppose it was, weâ€™ll just have to see how the selection goes this week,â€ he says, cautiously. â€œI think thereâ€™s obviously a big chance for me to play with Gordon [Dâ€™Arcy] and Johnny [Sexton]. Weâ€™ll see how the team sheet goes this week.
If Eoin does make the team against Clermont, heâ€™ll most likely have to square up to Aurelien Rougerie at outside centre â€“ quite a challenge given that Rougerie is 6â€™4â€ and Eoin is just 5â€™10â€.
â€œApart from anything else, heâ€™s a world-class player. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™d be really looking forward to â€“ a big chance to prove myself. Playing at that level would be pretty exciting.
â€œIâ€™ve been lucky enough to be training with Brian and Gordon for all these years â€“ thatâ€™s a big enough challenge itself. Iâ€™m not the biggest man, so itâ€™s not a surprise when I have to mark someone bigger than me. Iâ€™ll certainly have to be fully focused, though.â€
â€œThereâ€™s definitely a bit of nerves. I think I get a bit of nerves every week, so I think thereâ€™ll be that extra bit this week. Playing over in France always brings its own excitement and Clermont are a serious challenge. I think Iâ€™ll be a bit more nervous about the team sheet, and Iâ€™ll start looking forward to the game after that.â€
Meeting Clermont offers a chance for Leinster to come up against a team who have previously benefitted from being coached by Leinsterâ€™s new boss Joe Schmidt, promising a fast and furious battle ahead.
â€œTheyâ€™re definitely a team who like to throw the ball around, and theyâ€™re big strong fast guys with good skills. It was Joe who got them playing the way they do, so hopefully heâ€™ll know how to dismantle them,â€ Eoin says.
â€œItâ€™s a very attractive brand of rugby they play. Hopefully weâ€™ll be able to stop them on Sunday.â€
Heâ€™s starting to make his mark at Leinster now, but two years ago, Eoin was forced out of the game by injury for eleven months. Not ideal for a young man trying to make a name for himself.
â€œI was just unlucky,â€ he says. â€œIt was just a thing with my hip. Iâ€™d had a lot of groin tears and hernias and it all got a bit messy. It was just wear and tear and it was hard to diagnose, so it did drag on. It got sorted, and I havenâ€™t had a problem since.â€
It did, however, give him a good chance to get to spend a decent amount of time with other injured players, including some of the club's star names.
â€œWhen youâ€™re injured you do a lot of rehab, and you get to see a lot of people popping in and out. CJ was in there, and Shane Jennings would have been there. Luke and Dâ€™Arcy too. There was a good bunch of us, to be honest.â€