Connacht get ready for their final game of the season this Saturday as they take on Zebre in the URC at The Sportsground, kick-off is 5pm

 

With the curtain closing on the 2021/22 season this weekend, it’s a chance for Andy Friend to potentially look at younger players and give them game time in front of home supporters. One of those players hoping to get a chance is Dylan Tierney-Martin who has had his injury issues this season along with battling for the number two jersey.

 

The 22-year old spoke about how he’s developed as a player this season with the Connacht senior squad.

 

“I’ve got some great hookers ahead of me since joining the senior side and I’ve enjoyed my journey with this being my first season as a pro”

 

“I’ve learned a lot from Shane Delahunt, Dave Heffernan and Jonny Murphy who have kept themselves right and performed very well”

 

“I found it tough to break that barrier and get some opportunities because of how well the boys were doing but near the end of the season I have had chances to show what I can do”

 

The step up from the academy or underage setup to the professional senior squad can take a bit of adjusting and Dylan explains what he’s found to be the biggest difference.

 

“The biggest jump I found was the consistency and detail of preparation”

 

“I think once you get to that level in terms of being a pro player it does come down to the level of preparation and doing things over and over again and not get bored of it”

 

“The coaches have been great and Andy (Friend) has been very good to me in terms of building my character and as a person as well so not just the player and I do feel I’ve matured a lot this year”

 

Recent rumours around the URC have been the potential inclusion of an U23 grade. Dylan was asked if this new U23 grade could benefit younger players more compared to the AIL.

 

“It’s a tough question because I know there’s merit in both”

 

“I know the AIL traditionally has been the path way for younger players the whole way through but there is merit in that U23 league so it could be beneficial for a lot of players”

 

“If the URC could work with the AIL to align the two tournaments where they don’t clash, have them in the drop weeks or the Champions Cup week where there is no AIL I think it could be something to look at”