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Dooley: When The Pack’s Playing Like That, It’s Easy To Do My Job

Dooley: When The Pack’s Playing Like That, It’s Easy To Do My Job

Terenure College's goal-kicking hero Caolan Dooley received his player-of-the-match medal from Energia's Gary Ryan ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Caolan Dooley redirected the post-match praise to his forwards after kicking a mammoth 30 points in Terenure College’s unforgettable Energia All-Ireland League Division 1A final triumph over Clontarf.

Dooley certainly brought his kicking boots to the Aviva Stadium, splitting the posts with all bar one of his dozen kicks in what turned out to be a runaway 50-24 victory for Sean Skehan’s side.

Clontarf led 10-3 early on and cut the deficit back to 21-17 at one stage, but Dooley kicked six second half penalties – including three in and around the hour mark – to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Converted tries from Stephen O’Neill and replacement Conall Boomer saw ‘Nure hit the half-century mark as they became the first club to win an All-Ireland League and Cup double since Lansdowne in 2018.

“Usually it’s just looking after your process. When you’re doing the same thing over and over, usually the kick is going to look after itself,” said 23-year-old centre Dooley afterwards.

“Like, if you model yourself on the best goalkickers out there – I’m a Munster man, I grew up loving ROG (Ronan O’Gara) my whole life – and he’d always speak about how nervous he’d be before a kick. It’s the same with any other kicker.

“As long as you’re doing the same process every time, that kick is going to look after itself. Thankfully most of them went over today, bar that one which I’m pretty disappointed about. Sure look it, we’ll take it with that scoreline.”

Munster and Ireland legend O’Gara had high praise for the Limerick youngster, taking to social media to say: “What a player Caolan Dooley is. Rarely has a kicker at Lansdowne Road made it look that easy – beautiful technique!”

Dooley’s accurate right boot has been a key factor in some of Terenure’s wins across the season, Initially he shared the kicking duties with Callum Smith, buthas gone on to push past the 100-point mark and become their lead kicker.

Dooley knew that every point would count in the all-Dublin final, given the clubs’ last four meetings has been decided by six points or less. Clontarf had also won four of the last five encounters, including a 26-23 victory at the Aviva a year ago.

The Energia player-of-the-match paid tribute to ‘Nure’s forwards who absorbed ‘Tarf’s scrum dominance and managed to disrupt the defending champions’ lineout in both halves.

Earning penalties in and around the opposition 10-metre line, they knew they could rely on Dooley to deliver points. He returned the favour by showing some dead-eye precision and composure on the league’s biggest stage.

“When you’ve a pack in front of you like that, that are getting penalties, it’s easy to do my job,” admitted the Newcastle West RFC product, who made 17 AIL starts for ‘Nure this term.

“You just practise how many times a week just hitting those kicks. I just have to prepare for them to get those penalties, and when they get those penalties I have to reward them.

“When you’re a forward and you’re working hard in the pack and in the scrum and in the breakdown, and you’re getting penalties and then your kicker is missing, it’s a bit of a kick in the legs now.”

Meanwhile, Dooley’s centre partner Colm de Buitléar finished just his second season with Terenure as an AIL and Bateman Cup winner. He played four times for his native Connacht before bowing out of the professional game in the summer of 2021.

Following what was another excellent advertisement for AIL rugby with eight tries scored in a high-quality clash, de Buitléar believes some of the players on show deserve an opportunity to play at a higher level.

With five of ‘Nure’s backs aged between 20 and 25, and their starting front row having an average age of just 23, the Carraroe man told TG4: “The whole year there are lads out there going up against Academy and pro players – young lads like Craig Adams, Caolan Dooley and Adam La Grue.

“They haven’t just been doing it here today, they’ve been doing it every single Saturday. There’s so much talent still out there in the AIL.

“They might not get it when they’re in their schools systems, but if those provinces aren’t looking at them, they might want to start looking at them.

“Because they going out every single Saturday, and no offence to these Academy and pro players, but they’re smoking them, so some boys deserve a second chance.”