A wonder try against Wales, but will the man with Donegal links do the same against Ireland?
If, as many anticipate this year’s Six Nations Championship could well be decided in the crunch encounter against England on St. Patrick’s Weekend, then one young man with strong Donegal connections could have a strong impact on the the outcome.
The Donegal Democrat has learned that twenty four year old Elliot Daly who plays for Wasps and starred for England last weekend, has very close links in the county with cousins John and Sue Daly, teaching respectively in the AVS in Donegal and Colaiste Cholmcille in Ballyshannon.
His grand uncle and aunt Tommy and Annie Daly live on the Main St. of Mountcharles in a cosy home which is just littered with press cuttings on the progress of their now famous grand nephew.
The connection does not end there but makes its way through “the Gap” to Ballybofey where his grandmother Mary McHugh hails from and his mother Caroline McPartland has strong Lifford connections.
Tommy and Annie Daly read through the various press cuttings on some of their grand nephew's Elliot Daly's great performances for England. INDD 1602 Daly 1 MVB
In fact Caroline had an Irish Dancing School in London which in no doubt contributes to the winger’s swift footwork.
In the aftermath of two great victories for both teams last weekend where Daly broke many Welsh hearts with the vital winning try, we spoke to Tommy and Annie in their home in Mountcharles.
Tommy said, “We lived for nearly thirty years in London before returning home and I must admit we hadn’t much of an interest in rugby until the Six Nations came around, That all changed when Elliot started to make a name for himself on the pitch.
“Both himself and his brother went to Whitgift School which was a rugby/cricket orientated school and both of them excelled in both sports.
“Around seven years ago Elliot started to attract the attention of some of the top clubs and was called to Wasps for a trial..
“This is where the funny side comes in. Elliot must have thought that he was going for interview - he arrived at the grounds dressed immaculately in his school uniform with his briefcase in hand full of testimonials and his CV - not exactly de rigueur for a rugby trial.”
Elliot has broken some Irish hearts in the past - a number of years ago he was part of the England under-20 team that beat Ireland in Thomond Park and more recently a member of the Wasps 15 who routed Leinster 51-10 in January 2016.
In spite of these encounters Brian O’Driscoll remains the player he most admires in world rugby.
Asked recently if he aspired to be the next Jason Robinson his answer was clear.
“I want to be BOD. He is my hero - the man is so full of passion and determination, overflowing with skill and a man who never lies down. He never gave up.”
The young Daly really came into the limelight when, in 2015 the legendary World Cup medal holder, Will Greenwood penned a full page article in the Daily Telegraph outlining just why England needed Daly so much.
That veteran rugby player has since proved himself so right in retrospect.
Annie, who is one of the Meehans from Drimalost, Drimarone continued, “ In earlier years the brothers used to come over to visit the North West and up to their Uncle Paddy in Sligo. Paddy used to be terrified that they would kill each other with all the rugby tackling in the back field. Rugby wasn’t as popular in Donegal and Sligo back in those days.”
With the big match now just a month away where will the support be in the Daly household in Mountcharles?
Annie said, “I’m afraid it’s going to be a divided house here - I hope that Elliot has a really great game and does us all here in Donegal proud but in my heart I will be supporting Ireland.
And Tommy? “I’m afraid I’ll be sticking with family first.
“It will be a great occasion to see one of our own running out on that field no matter what the colour of his shirt. I’ll be behind Elliot all the way.”
Where will the Daly’s be watching the match?
Annie said, “We’ll be staying right here beside the fire and watching it in the comfort of our own home - I don’t think we could bear the excitement of being there.”
Given the tension and excitement that is likely in Mountcharles on March 18, I think we will join them if we get the invitation.