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Hernan's not-so-sweet 16 shoulder dislocations

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Mark Hernan

Mark Hernan

SPORTSFILE

Mark Hernan

It wasn't too long ago that Mark Hernan had to deal with the strong possibility that his career was over - before it had really begun.

"I had two shoulder surgeries in fourth year and fifth year," said the 2019 Leinster Senior Cup-winning captain of St Michael's College who will again be in the number seven shirt when Ireland's U20s take on Wales tomorrow night.

"I first dislocated it in third year when I was too young to have surgery on it. I had four dislocations that year, played two games in fourth year and dislocated it again."

This is when Hernan had to make the decision to have his right shoulder repaired. That didn't go to plan. The issue was not resolved post-surgery with the shoulder popping again - and again.

"It just kept going for the whole year in training or in games. I had 16 shoulder dislocations through those three years."

The first procedure left Hernan nursing the same problem, a shoulder that might betray him at any time. Still, he soldiered on through fifth year in school, delaying the inevitable until after the Leinster Schools Cup campaign.

"I just had to get through the Cup season and have the second operation after that," he stated. "It was tough in fifth year, to be honest. There was doubt going into games that it mightn't be solid."

The choice was there, take another intervention which wouldn't guarantee success or accept that his body was not made for the bone-rocking contact needed as a poaching openside, albeit one with a relatively lean frame.

"I wouldn't be your traditional flanker," he added.

"That is why it has been a big development year for me, trying to put on a lot of size.

"I've coped well enough up through 18s, 19s and playing in schools has been fine.

"It is just, over the next few years, I have to put that bulk on for the years ahead."

Herman is part of an unchanged back row for tomorrow evening's game with Wales at Irish Independent Park (7.15)

Ulster winger Ben Moxham is set for his first appearance, replacing injured Ethan McIlroy while Marcus Hannan comes into the front row.

Ireland Under-20 Team (v Wales): O McNulty; B Moxham, D Kelly, H Hyde, A Smith; J Crowley, L Finlay; M Hannan, T Stewart, T Clarkson; T Ahern, B Deeny; S O'Brien, Mark Hernan, D McCann