Having watched from the bench as his team mates won the Gordon West Cup last season, Jordan McIlwaine has used those memories to spur himself onto greater things with Lurgan Rugby Club.
The 20-year-old, whose career up to now had involved a number of different positions and stints warming the bench, announced his arrival on the senior stage in style with a club record 47-point haul against Monaghan.
Jordan began playing rugby when he was seven years old at Lurgan Tigers and also played for every school he attended including Kings Park Primary School, Lurgan Junior High and Lurgan College.
He said: “I think I’ve been stuck into nearly every position on the pitch, when I was younger I played a bit in the forwards and moved to wing at Lurgan Junior High.
“At Lurgan College I played in the centre and fullback for a short time, and last season I played out-half for Lurgan Second XV and that was the first time I stepped up to take kicks.”
He continued: “I’ve always enjoyed rugby, even training. A few of the guys would have a laugh at how eager I am to run around and kick a ball about. I would hang around at the club after training with a few other players and do some kicking practice, it keeps me out of the house.
“I got the motivation to start training regularly last season when I sat on the bench for Lurgan 1sts at Ravenhill and watched my friends win the Gordon West Cup. I would have loved to have been on the pitch playing.
His hard work on the training pitch has paid off and Jordan has starred for Lurgan Firsts in Kukri Ulster Rugby Championship Division Three on the wing and has also been handed kicking duties for a number of games.
“I’m loving my rugby more than ever,” he said.
Finding the highlight of Jordan rugby career to date isn’t difficult.
Lurgan played hosted to Monaghan on January 28 and sent their opponents back over the border on the wrong end of a 102-19 scoreline.
Jordan, playing on the wing, notched five tries and kicked 11 conversions.
Asked if he was keeping track of his individual points tally during the game, he said: “We have a bit of a competition going on for top try scorer so I was making sure nobody miscounted.
“Although I wasn’t keeping track of my kicking. I was surprised when I found out after I had kicked 11 out of 16.”
Both Jordan’s individual tally during the game and the 102 points accumulated by the team are understood to be club records.