Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 May 2016

Craig Gilroy focused on making an impact

By Michael Sadlier

Published 07/12/2013

Try that: Craig Gilroy has recently returned to action after an ankle injury forced the Ulster star to sit on the sideline
Try that: Craig Gilroy has recently returned to action after an ankle injury forced the Ulster star to sit on the sideline

Craig Gilroy apologises before digging in, but now is the time he has to refuel so his lunch just has to be consumed while he also tries to carry on a conversation.

So, it appears he can also multi-task off the field as well as while on it, with the latter situation seeing him make a pretty decent transition from the wing to full-back when required.

Though being out on the flank is still his favoured position – and where he is playing again tonight as well as being the likely area which could lead to further Ireland appearances – Gilroy also makes it clear that he is quite happy to be able to fulfil a role at the back.

After all, he is just pretty contented to actually be playing again and getting his first taste of European action this season in tonight's Treviso meeting.

Last weekend, he made his second consecutive appearance for Ulster – the first time he put in any back-to-back games since the start of October – in the hard-fought result at Zebre, where he was back on the wing and made a well-timed run to take Paddy Jackson's reverse pass before putting Darren Cave over for the side's only try.

"It was good to get back to my old ways and it was a nice passage of play for Darren's try," he says with a smile while lauding Cave for doing all the hard work to create the score.

Gilroy didn't get a score in Italy – he did manage two against Edinburgh the week before on his first game back – and wasn't exactly too happy with a later passage of play when he felt he should have backed himself when a half-chance came calling.

"I should have just put my head down and gone, but I heard Darren behind me and I basically looked for support.

"In hindsight I should have just put the head down and gone or just grubbered it through and chased it."

Yes, we're not accustomed to seeing Gilroy opt to take the ball into contact when one of those trademark dancing runs is on offer, but then the 22-year-old is still feeling his way back to being on the pitch again.

While last season's run-in was wrecked by a groin problem, he then picked up another injury when an ankle knock he had got against Treviso, in late September, was further aggravated the next week at the Ospreys.

That kept him out until a fortnight ago and the game against Edinburgh where, of course, he hit the ground running in the bonus point victory.

"It was all very frustrating," Gilroy says of his time out.

"Coming back from one and then doing it again, this time my ankle. My groin first off, then an ankle sprain," he shakes his head at the ill-fortune of it all before insisting that his time away has actually assisted in giving him more perspective about things.

"It was a lot of hard work for me in the gym and at rehab," Gilroy points out regarding the groin problem which saw him miss the PRO12 final and Ireland's summer tour.

"But, you know, it was good at the same time in getting you into the right shape to play again.

"I guess I'm kind of humbled a bit by it all," he adds. "You really take for granted being fit and being able to play. So I'm really glad to just be back again."

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