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*Clare U20 captain Eoin Rouine in action for Ennistymon. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Clare’s newly appointed U20 football captain is embracing the championship buzz ahead of Thursday’s Munster quarter-final with Waterford.

Ennistymon’s Eoin Rouine has said he is honoured to get the opportunity to lead his county into battle this weekend when they make the journey to Dungarvan.

“A successful week would be to go down to Fraher Field and beat Waterford but we’ve a good U20 team and always the ultimate goal is to win a Munster championship, our focus this week is to beat Waterford in their home ground which can often prove to be a tough challenge,” he told The Clare Echo.

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Big sporting occasions don’t daunt the towering midfielder given his experience representing his country in the 2019 European lifesaving championships. “I love the lifesaving, it is a great sport, it is great for fitness and helps with football a lot, my main love is the football, I was reared playing football, since I could walk I was kicking a ball and that is my main love”.

With the Rouine family have such a strong reputation in gaelic football circles in the county, it comes as no surprise that the next generation have maintained this love for the game. “We all love it in fairness, I’m lucky to be playing alongside my brothers and cousins all the way up along at club and county level”. Two of his cousins Cillian and Brendy are also part of the county U20 panel.

His first year as a psychology student at NUIG is complete and so far Eoin has enjoyed college life despite it being entirely virtual. “I was living at home for the year, it gave me a chance to concentrate on the football, all through the winter training on my own was tough with some dogged runs which are tough on your own but once we got back with the group everyone was delighted to see each other”.

“You’d have liked to get the odd night out and a bit of socialising but there is a lot worse things happening in the world right now with this pandemic. A few students missing out on a college night are the least of people’s concerns, I’m just delighted we’re able to get back playing football and under guidelines we can play championship football”.

Once collective training resumed, Eoin could sense the fierce appetite among the panel. “Everyone was so happy to be back, everyone is so hungry for championship football and rearing for road”.

For the past three summers, Eoin has worked as a lifeguard with Clare County Council, “I love it, it is a great job with great reward”. He has managed to combine this role and his football while also remembering the importance of recovery. “The way things have gone now recovery is such a huge part of the game. Training days are as important as non-training days in terms of getting your body right for the next match and training session, eating the right foods, getting the right amount of sleep, stretching and trying to avoid injuries”.

Manager Michael Neylon revealed that Love Island is the main talking point among the players during the cooldown. Eoin didn’t admit to being one of the regular viewers, “A few of the boys are mad into their Love Island, a few of the managers too. I haven’t watched any of it myself or I won’t admit to it anyways, it is a bit of entertainment in the evening after training for some of the lads, a good discussion point”.

If any Clare U20 footballer was to appear in the villa, captain Rouine is of the view that Jamie Stack of St Breckans would be the most likely candidate, “he loves himself so he does”.

Thursday’s primary focus will be on securing a place in the semi-finals, if that target is met, the long journey home may be shortened by catching up on antics from Love Island.

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