He wins this honour six years and three months after making his debut in the competition in the game against Perpignan in Stade Aime Giral, a match in which he partnered Barry Everitt, Munster eventually losing 41-24. That was his second outing in the Munster shirt, he d made his debut for the province a week earlier in the 31-9 Championship victory over Ulster a week earlier.
Educated at Presentation Brothers Cork, and later at UCC, he was on the Ireland Schools squad that toured Australia in the summer of 1996 and later played on an Ireland Under 21 side that included current international colleagues such as, Geordan Murphy, Brian O Driscoll, Marcus Horan and Donncha O Callaghan.
Already ear-marked for the highest honours, he was named on the bench for Ireland s Six Nations game against England (Twickenham February 2000) and two weeks later, made his international debut in the Ireland side that defeated Scotland 44-22 in Lansdowne Road.
Since then, injury aside, and allowing for a rush of blood to the selectorial head for the game against Scotland in September 2001, has been the first choice scrum-half for Munster and Ireland.