Letterkenny’s Kieran O’Gorman is in the Ireland squad for tonight’s Ulster Bank Club International against Scotland at Old Anniesland in Glasgow (7:30pm)
O’Gorman will start on the bench but is hopeful of getting a chance to stake his claim before the second instalment of the double-header.
Ireland host France at the Aviva on the same bill as the senior sides in the RBS Six Nations eight days later.
“It was something I was pushing for from the start of the season,” the Old Belvedere openside flanker said of his inclusion. “It’s nice to be considered in the best 23 in club rugby in Ireland. I’m happy enough with that for now.”
O’Gorman is based in Ballylee, Co Roscommon, and works for Outdoor Discovery Adventure Company in Ballymahon, Co Longford, as sales and marketing manager. As a child, he attended Tooban National School in Fahan.
There, he was friends with Nora Stapleton, who is also on international duty with Ireland this weekend; in her case in the RBS Women’s Six Nations opener in Italy.
“I’ve known Nora since I was four or five and we were really good friends then till we were about 15,” O’Gorman added. “My family moved to Letterkenny and we just went our separate ways.
“Although I don’t see that much of her any more Nora messaged me when I got the call-up. She was always into sport - soccer, basketball, whatever, so was always a great sportswoman.”
O’Gorman and Stapleton both line out for the same club now and have plenty to talk about when they occasionally cross paths at Old Belvedere.
First bitten by the rugby bug as a 10-year-old with City of Derry, O’Gorman represented Connacht from schoolboys up to U-21 level whilst studying at Sligo Grammar.
From there, he has lined out for Buchaneers for five years, University of Limerick Bohemian and the famed Garryowen club.
In 2012, he made the decision to sign for Old Belvedere and came within a whisker of winning the All-Ireland League last year.
On the final day of the season, Old Belvedere lost 23-18 at an already relegated Garryowen at Dooradoyle and Clontarf were champions by a single point.
“Heart-breaking,” is how O’Gorman sums up that afternoon in April.
And although Old Belvedere are currently in eighth place in the AIL, O’Gorman believes with a top four spot and the play-offs still a possibility, he has made the right decision.
“Leinster is just getting stronger and stronger, while everyone else is getting weaker,” he said.
“I love life at Old Belvedere. Throughout the club there’s a good morale; there’s great people involved at the club behind the scenes.
“Everyone gets on and they look after you in every way. It’s a good environment to be in.”
This week, O’Gorman is living the life of a professional and flew to Glasgow yesterday with the Irish squad.
“My objective this Friday is to try and impress if I get some game-time,” he added.
“It would be a dream come true to get the start in the game against France at the Aviva.
“That’s the objective and something I would obviously love but it’s a really high standard. Playing at the Aviva would be unbelievable.”
Although such a stage might be considered a stepping stone for some, O’Gorman, who turns 31 on the day of the France test in Dublin, is just aiming to make the most of the opportunity.
“Some players can kick on from here and get professional contracts but for the likes of me, I’m probably too old,” he said. “A cap or two for Ireland would be plenty for me. And getting the chance to play for Ireland at the Aviva? You couldn’t get a better birthday present than that!”