Cooney proud of overcoming struggles and potholes to make international mark

JOHN  COONEY KNEW that taking over at scrum-half in Ulster in the post-Ruan Pienaar era wasn’t going to be easy.

He might not have foretold just how difficult the trip to even discuss the switch was going to be, though.

Travelling to Belfast for a meeting with the northern province’s decision-makers ahead of his 2017 move from Connacht, Cooney’s progress hit something of a pothole along the way.

“I got a flat tyre on my drive up to see them and I was like four hours late,” he said with the humour of hindsight in Carton House this week.

Tyre trouble is an outright sickener at the best of times. On a long journey to a potentially pivotal meeting, Cooney would have been well within his rights to turn the air inside his car a dark shade of blue while thumping the leather off the interior.

Cooney chatting with reporters this week in Carton House. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The positive horizons seemed to be weighted against added misfortune as he spotted a the glow of a petrol station ahead.

“I was able to get there and then went to change, well I didn’t know how to change the tyre, but when I went to change it the lock-nut broke. So I couldn’t even change the tyre.”

Stuck in a tight spot with a punctured tyre stuck on his car, he tried to get by with a little help from a friend. Fortunately, for Ulster as well as the then 26-year-old, Aonghus Cody answered and dropped what he was doing to rescue Cooney and ferry him the rest of the way.

“One of my big work-ons when I was younger was that mentality, it was something I really developed. Working on training my brain, stuff like that.

“It is probably what I am proudest of in my career; that when I was third, fourth choice or whatever I still saw myself being able to get to this position.

“When I look back, I’m most proud of that: when I was struggling…”

Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy and discuss the week’s biggest stories in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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