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Scott & Goggin Reflect On Academy Years

17th August 2017 By The Editor

Munster Academy graduate Brian Scott

Munster Academy graduate Brian Scott ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

With the bulk of preseason 2017 now under their belts, academy-graduate duo Dan Goggin and Brian Scott are now hoping to make further first-team inroads in what will be their debut season as senior players.  They join us to reflect on their three years in the Greencore Munster Academy.

With the bulk of preseason 2017 now under their belts, academy-graduate duo Dan Goggin and Brian Scott are now hoping to make further first-team inroads in what will be their debut season as senior players.  They join us to reflect on their three years in the Greencore Munster Academy.

Two of five players to graduate to the senior ranks for the new season – alongside Stephen Fitzgerald, Conor Oliver and Bill Johnston – 2016/17 proved quite the breakthrough year for both young men.  Goggin played the full-80 in Munster’s opening-three PRO12 games and made a total of 14 appearances, while Scott, like Goggin, made his senior debut in Munster’s hard fought win over Scarlets in early September – the province’s first win in Llanelli since 2011 – and racked up 11 appearances off the bench including his Champions Cup debut against Glasgow Warriors on an unforgettable day in October.

The pair also helped Munster create history in becoming the first Irish side to defeat the Maori All Blacks in November, plus, the season was not without silverware, both playing their part as Munster A staged a magnificent second half comeback against Jersey Reds to secure a second British and Irish Cup title in April.

Not a bad innings for one’s final year with the Academy.

A three-year programme with the aim of developing professional players for Munster and Ireland, the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy has been in existence since the mid-2000s and has produced a host of household names including Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, and Keith Earls.

Like the above-mentioned, Goggin and Scott are the embodiment of the Munster player development pathway, progressing from grassroots through to the professional game.

The former is a Limerick native who first took to the rugby field at underage level with UL Bohs, later playing schools rugby for St. Munchins and representing the province at all age grades before shining for Ireland U20s in the 2014 6 Nations and Junior World Cup.

Later that summer Goggin started Year One of his Academy programme and gave his first interview to MunsterRugby.ie at the end of week 1 – “Receiving the news from Peter Malone (Elite Player Development Manager) that I was in the Academy was a great feeling before the World Cup. It’s a new challenge now, kicking on to the next level in Munster and after one week I’m absolutely loving it.”

Three years later, how does the Young Munster clubman sum up his time in the Academy?

“Being the in the Academy for three years and the sub-academy for a year before that gave me the time and help to mature, not just as a rugby player, but as a person as well.  That extra year in the sub-academy made all the difference.  It prepared me for what was in store in the coming three years. That way I got a lot more out of them

“It was much more than rugby, the Academy and IRUPA (now Rugby Players Ireland) had all these education modules that encouraged us to do things outside of rugby, whether that be going to college or playing the guitar – just have something else outside of the game.

“And on the rugby front, being able to train among the seniors as a young fella really accelerated my rugby skills and knowledge, and even just mingling among them made the transition into the senior squad this season all the easier as I knew a good number of them already.

“There’s also close links between the Academy and our clubs and I am very grateful to Young Munster for all that they have done for me.  They took a chance on me, gave me senior rugby when I left school which raised my profile before selection for the Ireland U20s.”

Conor Oliver and Dan Goggin celebrate victory over the Maori All Blacks back in November –
INPHO/James Crombie

Scott hails from Cork and honed his skills in the club game with Dolphin, Highfield and Youghal before taking up schools rugby with PBC, a move that ultimately saw him claim a Munster Schools Senior Cup medal in 2010.  An Ireland U20 representative at the 2013 6 Nations, the versatile prop also played for UCC before returning to Dolphin and entered the Academy ranks in 2014.

The 24-year-old knows more than most the perils of injury, a neck issue putting paid to any competitive involvement in Year One with further problems curtailing many of his Year Two opportunities also. But now that he’s out the other side, Scott feels all the stronger for his setbacks and is forever indebted to the Academy staff that helped him through.

“Being in the Academy, it’s about proving yourself as well as building yourself in the gym and being known around the squad.  It wasn’t until Year 3 that I really got the chance to play properly and fortunately Rassie liked the big man and I got my opportunity in a preseason game.  Things took off from there.

“But for all the frustration that came with injuries, it was character building and the physios and S&C guys who helped me through it were unbelievable – Joe McGinley, Gordon Brett, Shane Malone and Pa Hanley just to name a few.  Even the other players in the Academy were always there to drive you on and vice versa.

“Gordon for example never stopped, he was always on my case, in a good way, and always pushing me to get to the next level.  I remember how supportive he was. He was there pitchside in my first game back and was as excited as I was to see me back on the pitch.  That’s the type of guys that are in the Academy.

“You build the right environment for yourself in the Academy and you use that to push on.  There were times when I wondered, will I ever be able to give it a go?  But when you get your chance and you feel the unbelievable atmosphere like was there last season, it all feels worth it.”

Both Scott and Goggin were nominated for Munster Academy Player of the Year at this year’s Munster Rugby Awards.  The pair were eventual runners up to Conor Oliver, yet their nominations remain a tremendous honour and a nice note on which to end their time with the academy.

Goggin too is someone eternally grateful for the expertise and devotion of the Academy staff.

“I said to myself that if I ever I had the chance to thank the Academy staff on a public forum I definitely would because they shaped me both as a player and a person and made me better suited to life as a professional sportsperson.

“I would never have made it without the help of Peter Malone, Colm McMahon and Greig Oliver and all the Academy staff – Greig in particular for taking me under his wing.  Joe McGinley (S&C) is another.  He and I both came to Munster at the same time and I can’t thank them enough for all that they have done for me.  I see them now with the next batch of young players and it’s easy to see how great they are with them.”

When asked what advice he would give to the new recruits this season, Scott concluded by saying, “Have the right attitude going into training and work hard on everything you possibly can.  Work-rate is something everyone looks at, Head Coaches mention it all the time, you can make errors in your skills but if you’re not putting in the required work-rate it’s easy to see.

“Also, never take anything for granted and enjoy every moment.”

Well said Scotty!

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