Yesterday was a great day to support the Irish team, but what a game of 2 halves! I am delighted they came away with the win and hope they can recharge in time for next Sundays showdown against England. Zebo’s try was super, thanks to running a great support line and Brian O’Driscoll’s super offload but this piece of skill brings a smile and is well worth rewatching – the soccer-esque flick: http://tsc.re/WLtn7M
In our heyday Munster would be decimated by the Six Nations campaign. This year we have lost 8 of our first choice players – Kilcoyne, Ryan, O’Callaghan, O’Mahony, Murray, O’Gara, Zebo and Earls – for the upcoming RaboDirect Pro 12 games home against Edinburgh then away against Scarlets and Treviso before returning to Limerick to face the Ospreys. By the time the big names return Munster could be out of the League unless the players entrusted with the red jerseys during this period can secure the points to climb up the table into the top 4 play-off positions.
The opposition will also be impacted by the Six Nations as they lose players to their national teams but this can be seen as an opportunity for some of the fringe players to stake a claim for a place in the team for the business end of the season. The benefit of the British and Irish Cup competition in providing experience to the up and coming locks, back row players and backs will be seen during this period. I managed to get to the semi-final and final of the B&I Cup last season and thoroughly enjoyed both. It is great to see Kilcoyne’s rapid progress from that team last year to the Irish team this season. The semi-final in the RDS against a fancied Leinster A side was the first game I attended which went to extra time. It was a Good Friday indeed and up there with the Milton Keynes Zebo hat-trick as my highlight from last season.
The 2011/2012 season winning team contains 6 of the 23 that played the recent European Cup pool game against Racing Metro:
Munster: S Scanlon; L O’Dea (JJ Hanrahan 70), D Barnes, I Dineen, D Hurley; S Deasy (D Cusack 72), D Williams G Hurley 75); D Kilcoyne, S Henry (D Fogarty 48), S Archer (J Ryan 75); B Hayes (B O’Mahony 60), I Nagle; B Holland (capt), D O’Callaghan B O’Hara 75), P Butler.
Munster were runners up in the inaugural competition (2009/2010) and that team included six of our first team choices today and several more which have started and / or provided options off the bench this season!
Munster: S Scanlon, D Barnes, T Gleeson, J Manning, S Zebo (M Kelliher 77 min), D Cusack (R O’Mahony 66 min), D Williams (C Murray 66 min), D Kilcoyne (D Ryan 41 min), M Sherry (S Henry 77 min), S Archer, D Foley, I Nagle (D O’Callaghan 61 min), B Holland, T O’Donnell (P Butler 61 min), P O’Mahony (capt).
The current crop of up and coming players will be eager to show us what they can do and will be ably supported by our Ireland A players (Sherry, Varley, O’Donnell, Coughlan, Keatley), our South African contingent (Du Preez, Botha and Stander) and other stalwarts like Johne Murphy and Sean Dougall. It is a pity we won’t enjoy watching Peter Stringer add to his Munster caps during this period but it is great to see him doing so well on his loan to Bath rugby.
Maybe we will see a team sheet including BJ, CJ and JJ during this period! Bring on the weekend with the resumption of the Rabo and more of the Six Nations to feast on!