From Harcourt to Hong Kong

Shane Daly

Intro

My name is Shane Daly and I am on a 6 month internship in the Corporate Tax department in EY Dublin. I am currently studying Finance in UCC where I am in my third year and I joined EY as part of the great work placement programme that this course offers.

In addition to this I am a member of the Irish Rugby 7s squad and the Munster Rugby academy which requires me to train full time between Dublin and Limerick depending on the week. As a result of this, EY were kind enough to offer me a position where I could work 3 days per week in order for me to be able to manage both my training and my work effectively. This has given me the opportunity to gain valuable real world experience while also pursuing my own sporting ambitions and it is an opportunity that I am truly grateful for

Pre-event

I have been lucky enough to play with a lot of successful teams in my career to date such as the Irish U20 team that reached the Junior World Cup final in 2016 and more recently winning both the All-Ireland League and Cup with my club Cork Constitution. This has given me a lot of exposure and as a result I was invited to play with the Irish Men’s 7s team half way through last season. I was awarded an international 7s contract at the beginning of this season and this decision was supported by Munster as the Irish 7s programme has already produced a number of both provincial and international 15s players since it started in 2015 as the game forces you to develop your skills in a faster environment and is used by many other countries as a successful player development pathway.

The aim for the Irish 7s squad since day 1 was to qualify for the HSBC World 7s Series which was a long road initially as it involved being promoted through the various divisions of Rugby Europe each year which the Ireland team did without fail. This gave us the opportunity to compete in the HSBC World 7s Series qualifier in Hong Kong in April of this year which is a once off winner takes all style competition. The preparation for this tournament was without doubt the most intense training I have ever done and we spent the whole season doing training camps and playing in competitions all over the world in order to put ourselves in the best possible position to win in Hong Kong in April.

During

Going into the tournament our only focus ever was on winning and we knew we were better prepared than any other team. Although we were one of very few teams who hadn’t played in this competition before and playing in front of 40,000 people in 6 games over 3 days was something totally new for us we took pride in the fact that we couldn’t have got to that point any faster and we showed our worth in the pool stages coming out as the top seeded team with 3 wins from 3 with a total of 17 tries scored and only 1 conceded, we went into the quarter finals very much as the team to beat. Our form continued in the quarter final beating Zimbabwe 38-5 which set us up for the third and final day where we faced Japan in the semi-final who we knew were our stiffest competition as they had been a World Series team up until the year previously and were hugely experienced 7s players. Although we were taking each game as it came you couldn’t help but think the winner of this game was going to go on and win the competition.

The game was incredibly close with Japan taking the lead through a well worked try leaving the score 7-0 at half time. We scored an equalising try half way through the second half meaning the next score was going to decide the game. We regained possession with 12 seconds left on the clock inside their 22 and recognised they had nobody back so we put a kick through, the ball was bouncing over the try line and all we needed was a kind bounce and we were on our way to the final but unfortunately that never came and we ended up knocking the ball on over the line and Japan regained possession and after a long period of defence eating well into injury time Japan managed to score on the opposite side of the pitch. To say that it was tough to take would have been a huge understatement as we had worked so hard to get to that point and it had all come down to the bounce of a ball.

As disappointing as it was the whole experience had been unbelievable and having the opportunity to play for Ireland in front of so many people in a city as amazing as Hong Kong was something really special and I am hugely thankful to EY for offering me the flexibility to be able to take part in competitions like these.

Post event

We have still got a lot to look forward to for the rest of the season between the 7s World Cup in San Francisco in July, playing in the Paris and London legs of the World Series where we will be the first Irish team ever to compete at that level and also our next competition which is Rugby Europe kicking off in Moscow next month. All that being said none of this would be possible for me if it wasn’t for the kindness of the people in EY and the flexibility they have provided me with to ensure that I get the best experience possible while also allowing me to pursue my rugby career and for that I am incredibly grateful.

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