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Neville “Can’t Wait” For Garryowen’s French Adventure

Neville “Can’t Wait” For Garryowen’s French Adventure

Paul Neville was the most successful captain in Irish rugby last season. He led Garryowen to AIB League and Cup glory and the club’s senior team also won the Munster Senior Cup.

But the bustling flanker is hoping for more glory in the new season which begins in earnest for Neville and company with a unique trip to France as Ireland’s representatives for the Languedoc-Roussillon amateur club tournament.

Speaking ahead of the tournament which kicks off next week, Neville said: “We hope to do the Irish game proud when we play over in France. It will be a tough task as we have three games in rapid succession, starting next Tuesday against Languedoc-Roussilon in Limoux. Then we play Romania three days later and face Tucuman on September 11. Our aim is to qualify for the final from those games and that will be played on September 14.”

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Neville is delighted that his side will have a number of Munster-contracted players with them. “David Sherry, the son of former international Mick, Conan Doyle, Keith Earls and Ciaran O’Boyle will all be with us,” he said.

“Conan and Keith will each be with us for a week. We discussed the situation with Munster coach Declan Kidney and that is what has been agreed.”

Garryowen had “a useful workout” against English club Waterloo last Saturday though they lost 17-16, and Neville is delighted his side now have a full-on tournament to get their teeth into.

“I can’t wait for the tournament to start. We fly out on Sunday and are very proud to be representing Ireland. The opposition will be very tough and we expect physical games against our French and Argentinian opponents. It’ll be great preparation for us for the new season.

“There’s nothing to beat matches to sharpen you up. You can train all you like but it is playing of games that tunes a player up best,” he added.

Paul, a salesman with Frank Hogan Motors – Frank is a former Garryowen and Munster Schools and senior star and a former club President – previously played for Connacht and he represented Ireland at Under-19 and Under-21 levels. His sister Joy, a back rower with Shannon, has also played for the Ireland Women’s team and she has just returned to Limerick following a year in Australia. Paul’s father Gerry lined out for Bohemians, now UL Bohemians, during his playing days.

Garryowen have a new head coach this season in Darragh O’Sullivan. Taking over as coach of a club that swept the board with trophies last term seems a daunting prospect but former star flanker O’Sullivan has no fears concerning his new role at Dooradoyle.

“I was part of the backroom team last season when Paul (Cunningham) did such a fine job. I’m looking forward very much to the new season which starts for us competitively next Tuesday in France. We’re taking a strong squad with us and while it will be a tough task, we are honoured to be the Irish representatives and hope to do the Irish game proud,” he said.

Garryowen’s Languedoc-Roussillon Tournament Fixture List:

September 4: Selection of Languedoc-Roussillon v Garryowen, Limoux, 5.30pm

September 7: Garryowen v Romania, Saint-Chinian, 6pm

September 11: Garryowen v Tucuman, Gard, kick-off TBC

The tournament final will be held on September 14 in the new Yves du Manoir Stadium in Montpellier.