Holm Truths: Monahan's video vision remains an inspiration
Once Shane Monahan committed his ambition to video he was never going to desert it.
The bullish wing explained how cementing his Kingsholm role is helping realise a lifelong dream.
SHANE Monahan fixed the camera square on, and revealed his greatest ambition.
Many 12-year-olds would have been daunted by the process – especially on the first day of senior school.
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But the youngster was confident enough to back his ability and drive – and place on record his determination to become a professional rugby player.
Six years later, the day he left Drogheda's St Oliver's Community College, all the students were played those very same videos – and Monahan was proud to be on track to realise his boyhood dream.
Fast forward another eight years and Monahan is still just as humbled by his burgeoning rugby career.
If limited opportunities at Leinster hit the pause button on his progress, the former Boyne RFC man kept the faith once more.
But even the ever-confident powerhouse wing admits he could never have hoped for such a fast establishment at Kingsholm this term.
The 25-year-old explained: "I played soccer for a couple of years when I was about ten, but I got that out of my system and went back to the rugby and it took off from there.
"When I went back to rugby at under-12s, that was when I realised rugby was what I wanted to do.
"When I started secondary school they took a video of every single student, asking us what we wanted to do when we left in six years' time.
"They were asking us about our goals and our dreams, and mine was that I wanted to play professional rugby.
"And it hasn't changed since then.
"I'm just very happy to be here, and I feel privileged to be able to do something that I wanted to do so much.
"You see the video again on your last day in school so you see your baby face six years later, you see yourself as a 12-year-old kid.
"It's a great thing, it gets a lot of laughs of course, but it's very interesting to see all the people, whether their dream has changed or remained the same, and it's a great idea.
"It was definitely a boost to see that my aim hadn't changed.
"When you look at the little kid talking about his ambition, and you see it still matches up, it's a nice feeling.
"You make a commitment to yourself at that stage, and you want to stick to that.
"That's what I've done and I'm extremely thankful it's worked out – and long may it continue.
"I don't think I need to be making another video now – but I have already had to set fresh targets for this season, and that's been a great feeling."
Monahan arrived at Gloucester in the summer after a year of blasting through defences at Rotherham.
His first top-level chances with Leinster and Connacht did not work out, so he was fully prepared for a real battle to establish himself at Kingsholm.
He might not have expected to hit the ground running, but his gritty, direct game-breaking abilities have already jumped to the fore.
Now he is relishing every opportunity to impress boss Nigel Davies, and admitted he has had to adjust his pre-season ambitions.
He continued: "Initially when I came to the club I didn't expect to get so much game time so quickly, so I was delighted when I got the opportunity to play and then to take my chance.
"I'm happy where I'm going, and I just want to keep playing well and keep holding the jersey.
"I've always had confidence in my ability. I always felt I was capable of stepping up, but I needed the opportunity and I'm delighted to have that chance.
"In Leinster you only really have two competitions to make an impression, with the league and the Heineken Cup.
"But now we have three front-line competitions here so there's a game every week.
"I knew there was going to be squad rotation, so I was always going to get a chance at some point.
"But having my Premiership chance and so many starts so early on has been great.
"So that means I have had to set myself new personal targets for the season, and that's a great adjustment to have had to make.
"I think things are going well but I feel I can bring a lot more to the table and I'm learning all the time.
"Every week in training, from the coaches and the players around me, I hope I'm constantly evolving to the style of play Gloucester has and to the Premiership too."
BOYNE YEARS MADE ME A MORE VERSATILE PLAYER
WITH his pace and bruising, line-breaking ability, wing or centre suit Shane Monahan perfectly.
But as a youngster he was always a fly-half.
One hefty growth spurt shifted him along the backline, but the Gloucester flyer admits his formative playmaking years have helped him hone his all-round skills.
Fellow Gloucester wing James Simpson-Daniel was a ten in his teens, and just like ‘Sinbad’ Monahan believes his time at outside-half gives him greater empathy of what his team-mates want him to provide on the flank.
He explained: “I was a ten up until maybe about 17 when I went through a bit of a growth spurt, and gradually moved my way along the backline.
“When I played for Leinster Under-19s I moved out to the centre, and when I played for Ireland Under-19s they put me on the wing, and that’s how I evolved into a winger.
“For the higher level they felt wing was my best position, and I’ve grown to love it.
“Playing different positions definitely helps your all-round development.
“You can appreciate what people in other positions are looking for.
“I hope it’s paid off already, and it would be great if things continue that way.”
Monahan’s father Pete took him down to Boyne RFC when he was six years old.
And he was hooked just as quickly as his dad had been at Blackrock College.
Now Monahan’s brother Simon is a community rugby coach at Gloucester, and the duo are bedding in well with the Cherry and Whites.
If family brought him into the game those same bonds keep underpinning Monahan’s rugby progress.
He continued: “My dad went to Blackrock College when he was about 16, and back in the 1970s in Ireland there wasn’t too much rugby being played.
“He played Gaelic football and he’d never touched a rugby ball until the day he went to Blackrock.
“The boys asked if he wanted to play rugby and he didn’t really know anything about it.
“But he quickly fell in love with the game and went on to play for the local club Drogheda, which is now Boyne.
“And my uncle Leo played for Irish schoolboys.
“I started at Boyne when I was six. Dad took me down, but he never put any pressure on me to play, I just loved the game too.
“I played Gaelic football and soccer at school as well but rugby was always my main sport.
“Our family have always been a great support to me and my brother, and it’s great that Simon is now doing so well in his role at Gloucester too.
“Without the support of the coaches at Boyne, and then a lot of help from family, I’m not sure either of us would be here.”