The name de Buitléar is one familiar to Connacht Rugby over the last few seasons. Colm de Buitléar made himself known to supporters at The Sportsground on the wing but its now younger brother Eoin making his way through the academy ranks that looks to make the next step up.

Coming from An Cheathrú Rua in County Galway, Eoin is now in his third year with the academy and this summer has been training with Andy Friend’s squad ahead of the new season. We sat down with the front row forward to see how he’s getting on.

How has it been for you training with the pro squad this summer?

Its my first time training with the squad and its been different from what I’m use to with the academy but you can see straight away how important it is to be switched on all the time and to make sure no stone is left unturned with your preparation.

The preparation side of things is a real eye opener into the work that goes on off the pitch by pro players. Hours of work go into what you think are the very minor details.

Training with the squad where the likes of Cathal Forde, Darragh Murray, Oisin McCormack and Shane Jennings are there has been an added help. We were all part of the side that won the U18 inter-pros a few seasons ago so I know them lads well.

Overall though I’m really enjoying every bit of it and the whole squad have been so helpful to me giving me advice and the confidence to show what I can do.

Your third year with the academy, what have you learned from being in this set up?

The academy has been brilliant in so many ways but specifically the skill side of things such as catch pass, breakdown and then the technical side of things such as scrums and line-outs.

All the coaches have been great to work with and I’ve taken so much from them which has helped develop my game each year so far.

I’ve got to work with Andrew Browne a lot with forward specific stuff and part of what makes his coaching so good is the enjoyment of it. You always feel like you are learning something new and improving training by training with him.

Talk us through your year by year with the academy?

The thing with the academy is everyone is different so it goes at different speeds so it changes for each individual. I was lucky enough to get an academy contract straight after leaving Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin (secondary school in An Cheathrú Rua) but that first year with the academy was very much a learning year.

At the end of my year one I was lucky enough to join the U20’s and play in the 6 Nations tournament in 2021.

Year two was very much one where I really had to work on my skills and get out on the pitch as much as possible. The pro team had a lot of competition at hooker so it was going to be tough getting any game time with them but I was lucky enough to play a lot of AIL that year with Corinthians RFC.

Now in my third year this is where I really need to push on as a player and take my game to a new level both on and off the field. It’s a massive year but I’m excited about the challenge that this year has to offer.

How did you find playing with the U20 Irish squad?

I loved it! I played every game of that 6 Nations campaign so it really helped me improve my game playing at that standard.

Rugby in An Cheathrú Rua

In An Cheathrú Rua football is the heart and soul. The dream of wearing the maroon jersey in Pearse Stadium or Croke Park has long been a goal for kids in South Connemara. Plenty have gone on to play for the Galway footballers but now playing rugby at the highest level is an ambition for many kids with the sport growing year by year and the interest levels increasing.

How did rugby start in An Cheathrú Rua?

There was no rugby club in An Cheathrú Rua until my dad and Micheál Ó’Domhnaill set up An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí in 2005.

My dad wanted my older brother Colm to play rugby so he set up An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí sending out fliers and putting up posters to try and start it all off.

Around forty kids showed up for the first training session which was brilliant and showed the buy in from the community to get this started.

In the club you play all the way up to U12.

I started with the mini’s at U8.

What happens after U12 level at An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí?

So after U12 I went on to play for Corinthians RFC. Most rugby players from An Cheathrú Rua would go on to play with Corinthians. Tom Forde (dad of Cathal Forde) who sadly passed away a few years ago played a big part as he was one of the men from Corinthians who got in contact with my dad where he organised a bus to collect all of us from An Cheathrú Rua to go out training in Corinthians RFC.

Every Wednesday this bus would come and collect me and a few more at the hall in An Cheathrú Rua, then it would stop in An Spidéal, Bhearna and by the time we’d reach Corinthians the bus would be full with fifty kids ready to train.

Its Corinthians who put this bus service on for us in Connemara so that’s really how players from An Ghaeltacht end up joining them after U12.

What sort of facilities have An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí?

In An Ghaeltacht we don’t have a pitch, we just trained on the pitch behind Scoil Mhic Dara (primary school in An Cheathrú Rua) and then for games we would use the local Gaelic football pitch.

Not having our own actual rugby ground I think shows the level of community spirit we have in An Cheathrú Rua where we all look out for one another and support one another. The community makes sure rugby isn’t left behind.

With An Ghaeltacht we get a lot of kids from other towns such as Rossaveal, Indreabhán, Leitir Móir, An Spidéal and even the Aran Islands and that just adds to the value of our club.

The Irish language

Anyone that plays with An Ghaeltacht speaks Irish so all of our training, matches, plays are spoke through Irish.

I remember we even use to do a haka which was in spoke in Irish before matches.

Speaking Irish to me is part of who I am. I speak Irish at home all the time to my mam, dad, younger sister Córa and Colm. If you go down to the shop at home and see a neighbour you speak Irish or if you are walking along the beach and see someone you know you’ll speak Irish.

I love where I come from. It might only be a small place but it has big character and without doubt is one of the most stunning places in Ireland to see.

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