FAMILY TIES Michael Donnelly, who captained the Connacht Under-17s to victory over Ulster at the weekend, pictured with his family (from left to right); brother Cillian, father Brian, mother Deirdre and sister Eabha.
CASTLEBAR Rugby Club forward Michael Donnelly captained the Connacht Under-17s to victory over Ulster at the weekend.
Donnelly (16) scored a try as Connacht defeated their northern opponents 29-17 in a challenge game at Barnhall RFC.
The Ballintubber native stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his Castlebar team-mate Christy Cusack, who lined out at hooker.
Several other Mayo-based players are also represented on the 50-player provincial squad.
Connacht Under-17 assistant coach Simon O’Malley praised Donnelly’s performance at tight-head prop in what was their first win of the season.
“His work-rate around the pitch, especially against Ulster the last day, was very good,” O’Malley told The Mayo News yesterday.
“He was picking and choosing his battles going into rucks. He wasn’t like a dog chasing a car. He was being very smart with the way he was using up his energy around the pitch. He was carrying well and getting involved.
“Michael, in fairness, he’s very physical. He doesn’t mind getting involved in rucks. He’s never shy. When he gets there, he always makes a difference.
“He carries well, he’s smart on the ball as well. He knows when to carry and when to pass off. He’s not a greedy player when it comes to that.”
O’Malley, who is employed by Connacht Rugby as a Rugby Development Officer for Mayo, praised Donnelly’s maturity in wearing the captain’s armband for the fixture.
“Any dealings I’ve had with him he’s always eager to learn. He wants to know what he needs to improve on. His attitude is spot on for a young lad of that age,” he said.
“Taking on the captaincy the last day would have been a fairly big deal and a lot of players would have crumbled under that pressure as well, but in fairness he took it in his stride.
“Michael, in fairness, his work ethic is very good. He never shies away, he’s very disciplined at training as well. The one thing that would be concerning when it comes to players that make that kind of set up, is that they kind of get ahead of themselves.”
The Connacht Under-17s will face the Munster Under-17s in Limerick this Friday, August 12.