Prop JP Cooney revealed that he has achieved a life-long ambition of playing professional rugby after signing a development contract with Connacht.
At the start of the season the 22-year-old was unsure where his rugby future was heading but Cooney was overjoyed to pen a deal with the RaboDirect PRO12 side.
His season began with the Bateman cup holders Garryowen before being part of Connacht's defeat of Exeter in a pre-season friendly, demonstrating what a rollercoaster ride it has been for the youngster.
“This is the chance I wanted all my life since I was younger,” he told the Limerick Leader. “I am really happy, over the moon that it has worked out for me at this moment in time.
“I hadn’t heard anything over the summer in terms of moving on with rugby. I was just presuming I would be playing with Garryowen.
“So about three weeks into the pre-season, the Garryowen coaches Tom Tierney and Paul Neville were saying there may be an opportunity for me at Connacht.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I heard from Connacht themselves. Then when I did hear, I was thrilled to get a chance like that. I am trying to grasp the idea of being a full-time pro.
“I do my training, go the gym and that is it. I don’t have to do anything else.”
Connacht’s contract offer coincided with Cooney graduating as a science teacher but the former Munster academy player maintains the education he served at Garryowen will be invaluable to the rest of his career.
“I learnt an awful lot in the training sessions at Garryowen, never mind the matches,” he added. “I learnt a lot about scrummaging because they had some very good props out there.
“And the better your opposition is the more you are going to pick up, the more you will learn with them.
“I was really happy when the opportunity with Connacht presented itself just after I have finished college. Now I have my degree and now I know if anything ever happened to me – touch wood – I have something to fall back on.”