COOKIES ON Westmeath Independent

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Westmeath Independent website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time by amending your browser settings.


Ireland rugby squad receives warm welcome in Athlone

Story by Kieran Galvin

Thursday, 15th February, 2018 6:12pm

 Ireland rugby squad receives warm welcome in Athlone

Members of the Ireland rugby squad on the pitch at Dubarry Park, Athlone (home ground of Buccaneers). Photo: Ann Hennessy.

The Ireland rugby squad received a warm welcome in Athlone earlier today - as they held an open training session at Buccaneers RFC.  

Hundreds of supporters came out to greet their heroes, with young fans out in force to enjoy a midterm treat to remember.

Ironically, local star Robbie Henshaw - who began his rugby career at Buccaneers - has been ruled out of the remainder of the 6 Nations due to a shoulder injury.

But even that injury to the hugely popular Henshaw - and a shower of hailstones at one stage - couldn't  disturb the feel-good factor as fans made their way on to the Dubarry Park pitch to meet the Ireland players.

Ireland stars such as Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy and Connacht's Bundee Aki were among those to be put through their paces. And for most of the time, sunshine made a welcome appearance.

The Ireland senior team took on their under-20 counterparts as part of the training session.

Ireland rugby legend and former captain Paul O'Connell was also in attendance in his role as forwards coach with the U-20 team.

There was a significant media presence at Dubarry Park and in The Bounty as the build-up continues to Ireland's next 6 Nations clash against Wales on Saturday week.

Head coach Joe Schmidt and stars like Devin Toner and Keith Earls were among those to speak to the assembled media.

Schmidt and Toner thanked the local supporters and the host club for providing a warm welcome, also praising the facilities in Buccaneers and in AIT, where the Irish squad has also trained this week. 

The Sheraton Athlone Hotel has been the squad's base, with Athlone Towncentre and Grogan's of Glasson among the local landmarks where members of the Irish squad have been spotted over the last couple of days.