WHEN IRELAND WERE struggling to roll with the punches in New Zealand this summer, a local sports journalist lamented the fact that Ireland not not produced a good winger since Simon Geoghegan.
With rugby as the most participated sport and a regular pick of the best talents from the Pacific Islands, Kiwis judge their wingers on lofty standards.
When compared to Jonah Lomu, for example, even Ireland’s best wingers in recent years – such as Tommy Bowe and Shane Horgan – pale in comparison.
Shane Monahan gave a good impression of Lomu last season in the English Championship as he powered his was to 11 tries with Rotherham Titans.
He was signed, in the summer, by Gloucester and has since lined out four times for the Aviva Premiership club.
As a member of the Ireland U-20 team that won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2007, Monahan will hope that a couple of steady seasons in England could see him line out in green again alongside former underage teammates Keith Earls and Cian Healy.
Monahan featured for Blackrock College and Leinster A as he trained with the province’s academy squad. He made his only appearance for the senior team in April 2010 in a 30-6 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in Firhill.
Three months later and Monahan was a Connacht player, sharing the wing duties with rising star Tiernan O’Halloran.
The regular starts were not forthcoming and he joined up with Rotherham for 2011/12, attracting much attention with his brusque performances and a try-scoring knack.
He made his first start for Gloucester in August 2012 in a friendly against Leinster at Tallaght Stadium. A further pre-season appearance followed in a 54-9 romp over Doncaster.
Monahan, signed to fill the void of Top 14-bound Lesley Vainikolo, made his first Premiership outing in a thrilling 40-31 victory over London Irish.
He was not the only Irish face on show that day as he lined out against former Munster scrum-half Tomas O’Leary and Brian Blaney.
The impact he made in the backline, as Gloucester rallied to win with two late tries, led to his first competitive start, against Worcester Warriors last Saturday.
When he signed with the Premiership club, Monahan said:
I really admire the club’s ethos and the plans for the future, and I know I will have to work hard to make sure I fit into the squad aims and ambitions, and also those of the club too.”
The 25-year-old has certainly made a positive start.
Read: “No All-Ireland final in the 128-year history of the GAA has thrown up a pairing as emotive and unique.”