These are hectic times for Ian Dowling and the Kilkenny man would not have it any other way, as he prepares for his second Heineken Cup final appearance and possibly his Ireland senior debut on the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.
Ian Dowling’s undeniable form meant he was a shoo-in to be included in the Ireland ‘A’ panel for the Barclays Churchill Cup, but he now looks set to make the breakthrough at Test level having earned his first call-up to the Irish senior squad.
With Andrew Trimble ruled out due to groin and knee injuries, the Ireland interim management team had no hesitation in adding the uncapped Dowling to the tour party.
The Kilkenny man is arguably the form winger in Ireland at present with three tries in his last five outings for Munster and his defensive skills have also come to the fore in the Heineken Cup.
“I was told on the Thursday night that I was in the ‘A’ squad for the Churchill Cup, but then on Friday I was pulled up after training with Munster and told that I was in because there was a problem with Andy’s injury,” Dowling told the Kilkenny People.
“I was thrilled to get the call. Even though there was a change in coach with the squads, I knew there wouldn’t have been any real changes in the initial squad. To be in the squad under any circumstance is a massive honour.
“To say I was pleased would be an understatement and the first thing I did was to phone my parents.”
Dowling, a former rugby league international, has been Down Under before but jetting off as a senior tour player will be all the more special.
“This time last year, seven of us from Kilkenny were getting ready for a month-long holiday along the East Coast, Brisbane and the Cape Tribulation. Now to be going back as part of the international squad is a big, big honour,” he admitted.
First things first though. Saturday week’s Heineken Cup final between Munster and Toulouse is looming large and although Munster disappointed last weekend with a Magners League defeat to Glasgow Warriors, Dowling feels that game could be a timely wake-up call for his side.
“To be honest, going away with the international squad won’t count for much unless I have a Heineken Cup winners’ medal,” the 25-year-old added.
“We’ve put in so much work over the winter, we owe ourselves a massive performance (in the final).
“In some ways the fact that we lost to Glasgow might be a bit of a wake-up call. We are due a big performance next week.”
If Dowling does make his debut on the tour he will become the eighth player from County Kilkenny to be capped at senior level by Ireland.
The last Kilkenny man to make the grade was prop Gary Halpin, while Ernie Ridgeway, Bill Tector, Jack Notley, Willie Duggan, Ned Byrne and Ronan Kearney also gained international recognition during their careers.