Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Craig Gilroy: Young winger who has Ulster fans dreaming of Heineken Cup glory

Triumphant: Craig Gilroy celebrating his try in the game against Munster at Thomond Park
Talent: Craig Gilroy playing for old school Methody in a game against Coleraine Inst
Ulster's Dan Tuohy

It was clear he was destined for greatness from an early age.

At just 21, Craig Gilroy may be one of the youngest players in the Ulster rugby squad, but he may be the one with the brightest future in front of him.

After scoring a superb solo try against Munster on Sunday, the spotlight has shone brightly on the young winger.

The talented Bangor star played a key role in clinching victory during the Heineken Cup quarter-final match at Thomond Park in Limerick.

On Monday he was back at home resting after his heroics.

Following the game, the 6ft 1in winger has been inundated with plaudits following his dazzling performance.

The former Methody pupil used Twitter to thank fans for their support.

“Just landed in Belfast, good to be home! Thanks again for all the great messages,” he tweeted.

And among those who are also praising his skill is former winger for Ireland and Ulster, Trevor Ringland.

Ringland — who won 34 caps for Ireland between 1981 and 1988, scoring nine tries — described his performance as “fantastic”.

“What he did on Sunday brought home to everybody here is a talent and a talent with pace,” he said.

Ringland said the young rugby player has been “one to watch” for a number of years.

“We watch young players starting to come through, looking to the future of the team and he is someone we’ve identified as one who hopefully will emerge as a quality player for this team, and he has done that. The try he scored was fantastic — all credit to him.”

One of a family of five children, Craig represented Ireland Schools and was also part of the Ireland under-20 side that competed in the 2011 Junior World Championships.

“He has been showing potential from a very early age,” Ringland added. “They (at Ulster Rugby) have obviously been working very hard and Craig is developing into the complete package.

“But I also think the confidence that he will have gained personally from that try will help him to grow as a player, because confidence is a huge part of how well you do at top level sport.

“It is good for Ulster rugby and it is good for Irish rugby.”

Talking previously about his career highlights, Craig focused on winning his first Ulster cap and then playing in the game against Northampton in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

“Obviously the goal is to eventually play for Ireland, but most important right now is concentrating on Ulster,” he said.

Ringland, however, said it was important he remained focused on future success and not to get caught up too much in the post-match euphoria.

“You bank it,” he said about the moment he scored the try.

“But if he is good he will be looking for those whose judgement he values and who will offer constructive criticism to see where he could have done things better.

“He should enjoy the moment, enjoy the praise he is getting but I have no doubt that the staff at Ulster Rugby will be keeping his feet firmly on the ground,” he added.

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