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Treacy: It’s Ireland-England, That’s Huge Enough In Itself

Treacy: It’s Ireland-England, That’s Huge Enough In Itself

Winger Finn Treacy celebrates after scoring a try for the Ireland Under-20s against France in Aix-en-Provence last month ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Finn Treacy has played all 240 minutes of the Ireland Under-20s’ Six Nations campaign so far. A talented outside back, the Bray native has been a constant in Richie Murphy’s team selections across the first four rounds.

Treacy started the opening three games on the right wing, whilst doing a stint in the centre during the final quarter of their 43-8 victory over Wales. His powerful line break provided the assist for Ben O’Connor’s try late on.

He first played rugby at Greystones RFC before impressing in the colours of Presentation College Bray. In a historic first, he is one of three Pres Bray past pupils in the current Ireland U-20 squad, alongside Jack Murphy and Billy Corrigan.

Treacy was captain of the 2019/20 Pres Bray Leinster Schools Junior League title-winning side. Out-half Murphy kicked a conversion right at the death to beat Gonzaga College 26-24 in the final.

Four year later, three players from that Pres team will be on duty for the Ireland Under-20s (sponsored by PwC) in tonight’s top of the table clash with England in Bath (kick-off 7.15pm). It is certainly a great achievement for themselves, their families, and the Co. Wicklow school.

“You’d be safe enough to say that is the first time in Pres that it has happened. Just looking at the jerseys around the school, obviously Ben Murphy (Jack’s older brother) doing it a few years before would have been a big inspiration. It’s definitely a huge moment for Pres,” said Treacy.

Ireland U-20 head coach Murphy also holds a special place in Pres Bray folklore. He was captain of their famous 1990 Leinster Schools Junior Cup-winning team. Treacy had the opportunity to ask Murphy for tips during his schooldays.

“Richie would have definitely taken a few sessions in Pres, which I would have been lucky enough to be involved in.

“In terms of the environment that he has created, it’s a really exciting place that people want to come in on, and he’s just making sure everyone is clear on the role that they play every game. It’s great.”

The 19-year-old played for Leinster at Under-19 level before deciding to join the Connacht Academy last summer after some encouraging conversations with the westerners’ Academy Manager Eric Elwood.

“So that would have been after our (Leinster Schools Senior) Cup exit in March, he (Elwood) would have come down to Bray and had a chat about it.

“Ever since I moved there (to Galway), I haven’t looked back. It’s been a great move. The staff in Connacht have been great and I have settled really well. I think it has been the best decision for me,” he admitted.

Treacy is enjoying training and playing alongside experienced U-20 centre Hugh Gavin, with the pair also part of the Connacht Academy and regularly turning out for Galwegians in the Energia All-Ireland League.

The Ireland U-20s’ starting back-line has remained unchanged for every game so far in the 2024 Championship, and this continuity has helped them to grow a greater understanding of each other as players.

“Especially Hugh being there from last year. He has really taken a big leadership role in this team,” explained Treacy.

“A lot of familiarity has really helped in just bonding this back-line. I think this back-line, it being unchanged in all three games, has come together really nicely. We’re looking to build every week and get better and better.”

Murphy’s young guns are hoping to extend Ireland’s 13-match winning run in the U-20 Six Nations, a record that extends back to 2021. Standing in their way tonight is a powerful, unbeaten England team who have home advantage at Bath’s famous Recreation Ground.

Some are already billing the game as a Grand Slam decider, but Treacy, who scored a momentum-shifting try against France during the opening round, said that his team-mates are not thinking like that.

We are really game focused, there hasn’t been any talk of this being the game to decide it all. We know how big a game against England is, especially away in the Rec.

“We’re just looking at this as Ireland against England and that is huge enough in itself. We’ve seen in the last few games how strong England have been in that area (the scrum).

“In terms of the handling errors, we’re confident enough in our own skills to be wary of that and really put an emphasis on us imposing ourselves on them, more so than worrying about what they can bring.

“I would have seen the Rec loads on the TV. It’s definitely some stadium and some pitch, I’m really looking forward to this challenge.”

A gifted athlete, Treacy is one of the talented few who seem to excel at whatever sport they take their hand to. His dedication to rugby is a big loss for Wicklow GAA. The Bray Emmets clubman represented his county in both football and hurling, but admitted it was a straightforward decision to choose rugby.

“I always knew from a young age that rugby was the one. If I ever had to choose, if I had games on at the same time, I definitely would have always gone with the rugby.

“I would have always been more of a fan of watching it, the lads on the TV. Rugby was always the standout. It wasn’t too tough of a decision when it came to making it,” he added.