His father, an iconic sportsman having played county football for Offaly, his mother, an athlete from the hurling stronghold of Kilkenny, it was in the constellations that Tiernan O’Halloran would rise to supreme levels in the sporting world. “I was always mad to play any kind of sport – athletics, soccer, Gaelic football, anything!”
Tiernan’s rugby career came steamrolling in at the tender age of eight. “I started training with the Connemara All Blacks as Dad was doing a bit of coaching at the time.” Upon igniting his passion for the oval ball, it was on to Garbally College, the rugby stronghold of Connacht at the time, to cement his love for the game. Garbally’s boarding doors closed after Tiernan’s Junior Cert year and so he finished his education in Roscrea’s Cistercian College. “Roscrea didn’t have a competitive Gaelic football team at the time, it was a few of us going out kicking a ball every so often. That was the stage where rugby jumped ahead of GAA for me.” Having been involved with the Galway minor team up until his late teens, the Clifden native struggled to juggle the two. “I got a call from Nigel Carolan, with an offer of an Academy contract for the following year.” Within three weeks of signing his contract, Tiernan was called up for the senior team, and a champion was born.
After winning the Guinness PRO12 final in May and receiving his 100th cap for Connacht, Tiernan’s streak of good luck continued. “We were enjoying the celebrations when I got a call from Joe Schmidt inviting me to train with Ireland ahead of their tour to South Africa. I ended up getting capped twice for Ireland which was just a dream come true for me.”
Although Tiernan has previously doubted his ability for the game, he’s had to keep his passion kindling. “There were plenty of times that I thought maybe it’s not for me, I’m not good enough, or big enough, or strong enough, but you just have to keep working. I played every sport I could, and all these skills have helped to make me a better rugby player.”
The full back is planning ahead in terms of his career already. “I’m looking into doing some rugby coaching now, helping out with the underage and hopefully progress to a more senior level. I want to get a couple of courses under my belt in terms of fitness coaching too. Sport is my main focus, it’s in my genes, so I’m going to stick with it!”
“There were plenty of times that I thought maybe it’s not for me, I’m not good enough, or big enough, or strong enough, but you just have to keep working.”
“Sport is my main focus, it’s in my genes, so I’m going to stick with it!”