Alan joined Rock in September 2008 from Blackrock College School. I was Chairman of theU20s from 2005-2012 and many great players came through during that period who went on to play professional Rugby including: Zach Farivarz, Kyle Tonetti (current Under 21’s coach) Niall Morris, the Cahill brothers, Luke Fitzgerald (trained and was due to play All Ireland Final) Dave Moore, Ian Madigan and Jordi Murphy who played with AJ on the winning McCorry team in 2010 and now AJ who has as we go to print 3 International caps for USA Eagles having played against Samoa, Japan and Canada in the Nations Cup and scoring a Drop goal in the dying seconds to win the game 15-13 against Canada and hopefully by the time you are reading this another 2 against Canada and Australia in September.
My Parents and Ajs Grand parents were friends when I was in Rock, they living on Seapoint Avenue and us on Sydney Avenue Blackrock, and I was in class with his uncle Karl and a year ahead of Alan Senior who I played with in Stradbrook when we left school. So there was a connection going back and in the years that AJ joined Stradbrook his Granny and my Mother were neighbours in Killiney Hill apartments, so needless to say every time I visited my Mother ,Blathnaid would be there asking how her favourite Grandson was doing and was I ensuring that he was being looked after. As far as I can remember Balthnaid was at every one of Ajs games. Mick Hearty ,the Team Manager during that period, and who did all the work on the recruitment along with the coaches tells me of his first interview with AJ when he was asking him if he would join us in Stradbrook. AJ arrived with his Agent, Enda Norton, for the negotiations. The outcome was confidential but I would expect one of the conditions was a life supply of Miraculous medals for all the squad with free Blackcurrent and the occasional pint of Smithwicks shandy for his agent. AJ had Blackrock College in his blood and that showed in his commitment to the Club both on and off the pitch.
Shane Mc Clafferty was his Coach when AJ Captained the U20s to winning the McCorry cup in 2010 and spoke of AJs innate skillset and deceptive strength who always made the gains in the tightest of situations and who played and acted with great courage and Leadership. That leadership was often shown in Blackrock village late into the night but he always had his team mates backs and they his.
AJ joined Rock as a scrumhalf and Decy Smith, Assistant Coach and mentor, claims the credit for converting him to Outhalf. Whatever, it proved to be the right move and you can still hear Decy talking about their conversations during training and in the Club house after the Games, with both his index fingers pointing to the ground and a backward motion shuffle as he verbalised the usual expletives. AJ had great respect for Smithy, and it was mutual, and it made for great team spirit. Particularly in that year of 2009 when we were beaten in the All Ireland final by UL Bohs Having won the Leinster League and Waterpark and Garryowen festivals along with other competitions.
His sporting career to date is Alan was on the JCT in 2005, beaten by Belvedere in the semi-final but Alan didn’t play as he was sick . He was on the SCT in 2008, beaten in quarter final replay by Clongowes . He was on the bench in 2007. AJ was also an accomplished Soccer player being on the Leinster Senior schools soccer team in 2007. Beaten in the final, on penalties, by St. Vincent’s Glasnevin. Leaving school in 2008 he joined Blackrock College RFC. All Ireland under 20 finalist 2009, beaten by U L Bohs. Captain of McCorry cup winning team 2010. 2011/12 member of Blackrock College RFC Division 1A Senior squad, Winner of all America rugby cup with NYAC (2012), Life University. (2013/2014). Also winner of USA Eastern Championship Life University 2015 ( no all American final played this year ).
Toured Argentina and Uruguay with USA select April 2015. (3 “A” caps). Debut for USA Eagles July 18th 2015 in the Nations Cup V Samoa (scored 11 Points) also beat Japan( scored 18 pts) and against Canada(15 Pts) including scoring a winning drop goal in the dying seconds for USA to win 15-13. His 4th cap is due on the 22nd August and also another against Australia on the 5th September all going well. Academic BA from NCI in Accounting and Human Resource Management 2011. MSc, in Sports Science Life U Georgia 2015.
I remember when AJ was with the Blackrock U20s squad and we played in numerous games against the best of talent in that age group in Leinster and Ireland, at that time, and were being watched week in week out by the people who selected the Representative teams in Ireland, and could not understand why he was constantly being overlooked.
Hopefully Ireland will look now and as you read this he may be playing for USA Eagles in the current Rugby World cup and maybe that could have been Ireland
Best of Luck AJ Freddie Connolly Chairman Blackrock College RFC U20s 2005-2012