Ian Madigan adds weight to decision to pick rugby
“Ah, I would have loved to (play for Dublin). Even a chance to train with them, maybe in the off season, just to get a feel for it.”
Leinster’s Ian Madigan and Dave Kearney. “I definitely view it as a positive that I can play at centre and at fullback. I’ll do my best wherever I’m put,” says Madigan.
Imagine a svelte Ian Madigan hovering up breaks and distributing pinpoint foot passes into Dublin’s inside line.
Madigan attempted, like so many these days, to balance rugby and football as a teenager. Only problem was the latter sucked the weight off him and as a 15-year-old playing senior cup rugby for Blackrock College he needed every ounce.
So Kilmacud Crokes was hesitantly shelved not long after he was part of the 2003 Féile (under-14 All-Ireland) winning team.
“Rory O’Carroll was on the team, Cian O’Sullivan was the year ahead of me in Blackrock and I would have played against Johnny Cooper, ” said Madigan yesterday.
“Mark Coughlan was another on that Féile team who made the Dublin panel last year. I have followed them very closely since then. I would have loved to keep playing. At least have a crack at minor.”
The crossover in between rugby players like Madigan or soccer players, like Mark Vaughan and Paul Mannion, and Gaelic games has become a common occurrence these past 10 years.
South Dublin is undoubtedly a battleground for multi-talented sporting teenagers nowadays. So much so that Jim Gavin added the “hearts and minds” mantra to his repertoire after Dublin captured Sam Maguire.
As O’Sullivan noted recently in an The Irish Times interview the lure of his first love eventually saw off rugby and hurling.
The same happened to Madigan (it went the other way for former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam).
“When I was playing senior cup in fourth year I had to make a decision because I was training too much and losing weight.
“As a spectacle, going to Gaelic or hurling, I absolutely love it. But you have to go. It’s completely different watching on TV.”
From a perch in the lower Hogan for Dublin versus Kerry, he was drawn to Cooper’s tussle with Darran O’Sullivan but it’s the bearded one who has always commanded his admiration.
“I love watching Paul Galvin. Not just his footballing ability but the positions he picks up, how he controls things.”
What about yourself, could you have played football at that level?
“Ah, I would have loved to. Even a chance to train with them, maybe in the off season, just to get a feel for it, just for the experience.
“But they would run rings around me now.”
Can any skills be transferred to rugby?
“The footballing aspect of it, like spatial awareness is massive, how long you have on the ball.
“You see a guy running into a dead end, it’s generally the same guys you see doing it, and the same with rugby, you see a guy doing the same when he should give a pass because he doesn’t have the confidence.”
Confidence is not something Madigan lacks. It can’t be called arrogance if he continues to back it up. Last weekend, in his first game of the campaign at outhalf, against the Cardiff Blues at the RDS he smashed the tea cup.
The proverbial storm being how Leinster’s new Kiwi outhalf Jimmy Gopperth might see Madigan forced to fullback or inside centre yet again.