CLOGHER Valley rugby star, Chris Farrell, has admitted he was ‘living the dream’ when he lined up for Ireland against Wales in a vital match in this year’s Six Nations tournament.

In his first start in the prestigious competition, the 24-year-old from Fivemiletown played a starring role as the Irish team produced a 37-27 bonus point win that kept them on course for the Championship title.

Having been given a place in the starting line-up following an injury to Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw, Farrell grabbed his chance with both hands and was named ‘man of the match’ after a gutsy, all-action display.

But his joy at making such a big impact has been tempered by the news that a training ground injury sustained on Tuesday means he is likely to miss the last two games of the tournament.

The Tyrone native won his place in this year’s Ireland squad for the Six Nations following a series of impressive performances in his first season for new club, Munster.

Prior to that, Farrell had spent three seasons with the French club Grenoble.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter this week, the 24 year old admitted that he thought his dream of playing for Ireland was over when he decided to move to France after leaving his first professional club, Ulster.

He said: “I’ve been watching Six Nations matches my whole life and to end up playing there was something special. When I walked away from Irish rugby to go to France, I thought that the dream was over. But, having come back to play for Munster, I’m lucky to get that chance again.”

Having started out playing rugby at the age of 11, the talented centre recalled his early days lining out for Fivemiletown College and Clogher Valley Rugby Club.

He said that Fivemiletown College was “very good to me”, mentioning in particular Stephen Clarke, who coached him at under 14 and 16 level.

In a statement released to the Impartial Reporter this week, Mr. Clarke said that Farrell held a “special place” in the hearts and minds of staff and pupils at the school, where he was a pupil and captain of rugby for six years.

He said: “A talented athlete, footballer and rugby player, he leaves a legacy in his trail of budding rugby players aspiring to follow in his footsteps and just maybe one day be honoured to answer Ireland’s call. His leadership qualities coupled with a friendly disposition ensured he always brought out the best in each player leading his team to many victories.”

Saturday’s match was also a “very, very proud” moment for Farrell’s family, parents David and Janet, older brother Dean and younger sister Katy-Jane.

They were among 12 members of the extended family, including uncles and aunts, who were in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin for the crunch game.

His father, David, told the Impartial Reporter that Chris had always been very focused on playing rugby.

He said: “For the last year of his A Levels, he moved to Campbell College in Belfast, which is more of a rugby school. He knew where he wanted to be and he was determined to get there. He was part of the team that won the Schools Cup that year. He charged down the ball to prevent a score in the last minute to give them the win. That was a good game!”

Mr. Farrell said that Saturday was not just a proud moment for the family, but also Clogher Valley Rugby Club and Fivemiletown as a whole.

“There’s so much hype and excitement in Fivemiletown. Everyone’s been showing great support,” he said.

The proud father had a special word of thanks for two stalwarts of Clogher Valley Rugby Club, William Trimble and William Boyd, whom he said were instrumental in spotting his son’s talent and putting him on the road to international success.