Ireland will meet the USA Eagles for the 10th time in an International Rugby Test this Saturday at 6.30pm in the Aviva Stadium, but one player in particular in the USA team might be getting a lot of vocal Galway support! 26 year old Paul Mullin (above), a native of the Aran Islands, made his international rugby debut for the USA in June having spent almost 8 years in Houston, Texas. The tighthead prop was part of the USA’s famous 30-29 win over Scotland in Houston last summer, a match in which former Connacht outhalf AJ McGinty was superb for the Eagles. It was the Americans first ever win against a Tier 1 nation. Since making his debut against Russia in June, Mullen has played in 6 games for the USA and won 5, only tasting defeat against the Maori All Blacks at Soldier Field on November 3rd. It was a bruising encounter, ironically at the same Chicago venue that Ireland had beaten the All Blacks the year before. Having grown up and went to National School in Kilronan, Aran Islands where his father Michael and mother Elizabeth run a local shop, Paul went to secondary school in Glenstal Abbey in Limerick where he played Munster Schools Rugby and despite moving on to Kings Hospital Dublin he remained with the Southern Province.
After the Leaving Cert in 2011, Paul Mullen packed his bags to head to Texas A&M University to study Marine Engineering, furthering that with a Masters in Marine Resources Management which he graduated from last May. In August he joined Newcastle Falcons for the first four months of the Premiership season as the club bolstered its stock of props. He qualified to play for the USA as his grandfather PJ had been born in Boston before bringing the Mullens back to Inis Mór. Sporting success in the family is not just confined to Paul however. His brother Eoin (below) is a professional cyclist, having represented Ireland at the UCI Track Cycling World Championshipsin in 2013 and 2015 and is a live prospect to go to the 2020Olympics in Tokyo. Whatever about Tokyo, this Saturday in Dublin you might just hear a few Connemara accents shouting for the USA and with good reason!
IRELAND V USA rugby history:
5/11/94 Ireland 26-15 USA (Lansdowne Rd)
6/1/96 USA 18-25 Ireland (Marietta, Atlanta)
2/10/99 Ireland 53-8 USA (Lansdowne Rd)
10/6/00 USA 3-83 Ireland (Charleston, South Carolina)
20/11/04 Ireland 55-6 USA (Aviva Stadium)
31/5/09 USA 10-27 Ireland (Santa Clara, California)
11/9/11 Ireland 22-10 USA (Rugby World Cup in New Zealand)
8/6/13 USA 12-15 Ireland (Houston, Texas)
10/6/17 USA 19-55 Ireland (Red Bull Arena, New Jersey)