Carbery Moves South

Carbery Heads South

It was confirmed earlier this afternoon that Joey Carbery will move to Munster next year for an undisclosed period. He moves from Leinster to hopefully get more game time in the 10 jersey and he will develop his game even more because he still has plenty to learn.

Leinster will have plenty of cover in the fly half department where players like Ross Byrne , Ciaran Frawley and Harry Byrne will now battle with each other to get a start when incumbent Johnny Sexton will away with Ireland.

The early talk was that Ulster were in pole position to sign either Byrne or Carbery but that talk died down rather quickly and the focus shifted to Carbery moving to Munster. Looking at the situation in Leinster when Carbery and Ross Byrne were picked together with Leinster Carbery was always selected at 15 and Byrne got the nod at 10.

Over the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what Munster decide to do with their log jam at fly half as you have a number of players with new contracts signed recently namely , Bill Johnston and Ian Keatley who have both signed two year deals for next year and the year after.

Tyler Bleyendaal and JJ Hanrahan have two years and a year to run on their deals so the IRFU will need to work with the players and Munster to see what can be done to make sure all parties will get game time next year.

Ireland should benefit in the long term from this move but while one solution is found another crops up, Ulster still don’t have a permanent solution to their issues at fly half. They will work closely with the IRFU to try and find a suitable replacement to play alongside Jonny Mc Phillips.

The other issue that this move will bring back up is the lack of players from other academies outside of Leinster being blooded. Many people will say that this move is weaking one province but you can be sure that this move is being made for the benefit of all the teams involved including giving players valued game time in their preferred positions.

He will be away with Ireland for extended periods like next November, and during the Six Nations period alongside the World Cup in late 2019. This move has been mooted and has now been confirmed so hopefully Joey Carbery can move on with his playing career and continue to perform to the best of his ability.

By

Cian Mc Gibney

31/05/2018

Ireland Under 20 – World Championship

Ireland Under 20s – France 26-24 Ireland

Ireland faced France in the opening Under 20s fixture of the 2018 World Championship that is being held in France. Noel Mc Namara has had to select a squad that will be shorn of a number of key men through injury like Angus Curtis, Sean Masterson and Jack O Sullivan. In that case other players will need to step up to the plate.

The game last night took place at the Stade Aime Giral the home of Perpignan rugby club. France won this year’s Six Nations and came into this game as favourites but Ireland hadn’t read that script and worked really hard to earn a 17-5 half time lead.

Ireland have worked hard to solve some of the issues that had dogged there Six Nations like poor set piece play and a lack of control in the line out but these issues seemed to be well on the way to being sorted with Ireland keeping hold of possession and moving a really big French pack around the field with  fly half Harry Byrne kicking in behind the French back line and then managing to pick their way through using the forwards to keep the ball in tight and sucking in the close defence to then unleash the outside backs with the centre pairing of Tommy O Brien and Peter Sylvester really using their feet to open up gaps in the French defence.

From a French perspective then never got going until the 2nd half and within 6 minutes of the 2nd half beginning they had turned a 17-5 deficit into a 26-17 lead by scoring three tries in quick succession and then Ireland struggled with French power in the set piece and in the line out. Ireland could not get their hands on the ball and made a number of changes to try and solve those problems but waited until the 65th minute to introduce Jonny Stewart the Ulster scrum half who played at this level last year and started in this year’s Six Nations campaign also.

Hugh O Sullivan started the game last night but when it came to get an experienced head on the pitch to try and steer Ireland home, the move came too late and although Jonny Stewart had a positive impact when he did arrive with his break in the 78th minute leading to the line out that almost saw Ireland getting over the line to sneak a win that did not look likely after the opening 20 minutes of the 2nd half.

Ireland will now face South Africa next Sunday in the 2nd game of the Pool and will need to beat them to stand any chance of making the last 4 of this year’s competition where the three Pool winners and the best runner up will make up the Semi Finals.

Noel Mc Namara and his coaching team that includes Paul O Connell will need to impart some real nuggets of wisdom to this young group of players to help them overcome the substantial challenge that awaits them against South Africa…

By

Cian Mc Gibney

31/05/2018

Leinster – Double Winners 2018

Leinster – Double Success

Leinster completed the double this past weekend by defeating the defending champions The Scarlets 40-32. The scoreline may suggest a close game but this contest was over at half time as Leinster lead 21-11.

This was another masterful display that was build on teak tough defence and was full of imagination in attack and this was brought to the fore in particular by the solo try from Ireland’s rising star Jordan Larmour who kicked the ball clear and chased it down then took it up one handed very O’Driscoll esque and scampered clear to dot down.

Leinster just about saw off Munster in the RDS two weeks ago and did very well to get themselves into this contest so early although in the early exchanges it was tit for tat between Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Sexton who traded penalties early on until Devin Toner crashed over for a try.

 By then the Leinster attack had set about nullifying the Scarlets strong attack that 12 months earlier had dismantled Munster inside the opening half an hour, no such luck 12 months on as Leinster made sure that they didn’t give the Scarlets a sniff and as this game wore on Leinster superiority in many departments began to tell and the Scarlets began to run out of ideas while also trying to run the ball from deep in their own 22 and this played straight into the hands of men like Sexton , Ringrose and Jordan Larmour who just counter attacked using the up and under as the weapon of choice many times and this tactic worked a treat.

Isa Nacewa didn’t get the ideal finish as he was called ashore early on through injury but his replacement Joey Carbery just slipped in unnoticed and worked very well against the ever impressive Gary Ringrose.

Stuart Lancaster came in last year and set about changing the defence system in Leinster and he also worked on the handling skills of this improving squad and although they came up shot twice last year , this year was very different and you can see the good work the whole coaching ticket has done. John Forgarty has done wonders to keep up the high standards that Greg Feek set while he was working with Leinster under Joe Schmidt.

Girvan Dempsey has upped the ante in the attacking department and his good work along with the one on one work that Lancaster has put in with many of this squad has now paid dividends and the rewards are there for all to see.

The trick next year for Leinster will be to see can reclaim both titles they won this year and continue to develop more talent to come through and join the ranks of this Leinster side. They used 55 players this season and did likewise last year and with their academy producing quality players they will hope that they can continue to strive for more and more honours as the years go on.

Now that the British and Irish Cup has ended, all fours Provinces will be looking to the All Ireland League and maybe an Interprovincial Series to help get some more young talent ready for the rigours of professional rugby.

Joey Carbery has been to subject of intense speculation since the Grand Slam win in March as to where he will play his rugby from next year. Joe Schmidt has indicated that he wants Carbery to play at 10 on a more regular basis and Leinster have a slight log jam in that area with Sexton , Ross Byrne , Ciaran Frawley and to a lesser extent Irish 20s out half young Harry Byrne all vying for the Leinster 10 jersey.

The talk is that he should be parachuted into the Ulster squad alongside Jonny Mc Phiillps or now the chatter is that he may be heading down to Munster but if this happens what does the IRFU do with the 10s in the Province already namely, Bleyendaal , Hanrahan , Keatley and Bill Johnston who was given a two year contract to start next season.

Whatever is decided, they need to move quickly and solve this issue before the tour in Australia begins on June 9th.

For now though it is time to salute the achievements of this Leinster squad and its top notch coaching ticket. It is where the other three Provinces strive to be and here’s hoping they can take a leaf from the Leinster manual and who knows where season 2018/2019 could lead….

By

Cian Mc Gibney

28/05/2018

Ireland Squad -2018 Oz Tour

Ireland Squad – Trip To Oz

Ireland head for Australia in June for three Test Matches against a Michael Cheika coached Aussies side who will want to bounce back from a poor Rugby Championship campaign. Australia will know what awaits them having faced England back in 2016 and they were Grand Slam winners also.

Joe Schmidt will realise that this is an ideal opportunity for his squad to really put out a statement of intent ahead of November 2018 where the World Champions will come to town for one final time before the World Cup in Japan in late 2019.

Ireland are now 2nd in the World and this a real fill up to supporters but you can be sure that all the players will want to drive forward and this Tour will give them the chance to win a Series in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time since 1979.

The squad has two additions in the form of Tadgh Beirne and Ross Byrne, both men will hope to earn a first cap down South. In Beirne’s case he had to head to Wales to get regular game time and in the two years he has spent with the Scarlets he has developed into a really good quality back row and has also played in the second row. He has turned into a master of the turnover and is also quite adept at the “Choke Tackle” that Les Kiss introduced to the Irish set up during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Ross Byrne has had to bide his time to gain International recognition in the Green jersey having played alongside Luke Mc Grath and Garry Ringrose at 20s level. Both men have graduated to senior level and have been capped on multiple occasions.

Now Ross Byrne will have at least one shot at nailing down the third out half position in the Irish squad. This Tour will be very beneficial to this squad who will want to show the World that they can kick on from winning a Grand Slam and with the way Joe Schmidt has worked his magic since the failure of the 2015 World Cup and build real strength in depth with real quality in each position.

Yes out half is still an issue but we will see the quality of Ross Byrne who has been selected ahead of Joey Carbery many times this year for Leinster. Byrne’s younger brother Harry will steer the Under 20s ship as first choice out half in France this summer. The quality in that family isn’t just confined to one family member.

Micheal Cheika has gotten in early saying it is the ideal chance at lowering the Irish colours since the Grand Slam win in March. Joe Schmidt will have his side well guarded against compliancy and they will go after three wins to seal a very special achievement that hasn’t been done in 39 years.

The time is now for this squad to show that last March wasn’t just a one off and consistency can be achieved until the World Cup in late 2019 where Ireland will try and get to a first ever Semi Final since the first World Cup in 1987……

By

Cian Mc Gibney

24/05/2018

Munster – The Year That Was

Munster – The Year That Was

Munster were defeated by Leinster in the RDS on Saturday by a single point 16-15. Leinster are now on course for the double when they play Scarlets in Dublin this weekend. From a Munster perspective it is another campaign that will end in disappointment, 2 Semi Finals and two defeats like 2017.

Johan Van Graan took the role of Head Coach after Rassie Erasmus left for South Africa last November. This campaign like last year has been disrupted by injuries and upheaval in the coaching ticket. Looking at the way this year ended with Munster in two semi finals but like last year both ended in losses.

The major question will be how can Munster try and gain enough momentum and also make the correct adjustments so they can go beyond just competing in semi finals and get back to Finals. They did make the 2017 Pro 12 Final and were heavily defeated by The Scarlets.

Two tries late on covered over the cracks and the hope was that the 2017/2018 season could be the start of something special but alas it wasn’t to be and now the Munster management committee and coaching staff will have a full summer to stew on what went before and they will need to come up with some new type of game plan to try and break down the mental barrier that seems to block them in Finals rugby.

The attacking game plan has been virtually nonexistent with Munster struggling to get consistency in the out half position this year and to that end the decision to give Bill Johnston a two year deal will hopefully give Munster an opportunity to blood a new 10 and try and build a new partnership between Conor Murray and his understudy Duncan Williams and the 10s that are already in the Munster squad, JJ Hanrahan and Ian Keatley. Adding Neal Cronin to the scrum half department will bring added competition.

Here’s hoping that season 2018/2019 will bring more pleasant times for the Munster squad and Fans

By

Cian Mc Gibney

21/05/2018

Leinster – Champions Once More

Leinster – Champions Once More

Leinster secured there 4th European Crown yesterday after a titanic struggle with Munster’s conquers Racing 92. Isa Nacewa who will retire at the end of the season kicked two huge penalties in the last 10 minutes to help in securing another European crown for Ireland and a 4th European Cup for Leinster.

Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster have had this Leinster side playing a different type of rugby than the rest of Europe this year and the return of Robbie Henshaw has also been crucial add to that the way Jamison Gibson Park has come into the side in the Semi Final and also in the second half yesterday.

James Lowe will know he will get his chance next year and will hopefully be able to add to fine displays in the Champions Cup next year. His focus will now be on a Pro 14 Semi Final next weekend in Dublin.

Back to yesterday, Leinster would have seen the way that Munster struggle to break to a really solid Racing defence and on a few occasions yesterday it looked as if they were going to break through thanks to the hard running of Henshaw and Ringrose , while up front James Ryan and Dan Leavy worked tirelessly in the pursuit of glory.

Although Jonathan Sexton didn’t have a vintage game with the placed boot but was solid and extremely effective with the ball in hand. This winning display was built on hard work and a strong set piece with one or two moments of brilliance.

Racing will know that this game came down to one or two key moments in the 2nd half where there scrum half Teddy Iribaren made one fatal mistake and the Leinster breakdown work managed to win the ball back and get the ball back down the field and from that they got the first of two late penalties.

Racing 92 for their part will be bitterly disappointed that there second Final appearance since 2016 has ended in defeat. Donnacha Ryan worked hard to try and disrupt the Leinster ball at line out time and he managed to disrupt only a small number of Leinster line outs. Racing came to play with a very aggressive line speed and with Vakatawa and Chavancy leading the line in defence.

This game was not for the purist that particular line will be used over the next few days to describe the way this game was played.  Leinster won’t be one bit upset by the way they played yesterday and will now be able to point to the fact that they have now joined Toulouse on 4 European wins in the history of the competition.

The work that Leinster have put in at academy level was defiantly laid bare with the Leinster A team involved in the British and Irish Cup Final although they were beaten 22-7 in that game , a number of those players will be blooded next year. 

Sean O Brien has missed a large part of this year , Jamie Heaslip retired but players like Dan Leavy , Jack Conan , Max Deegan have made up for those losses. Girvan Dempsey and Noel Mc Namara have done Trojan work with the academy and then all those players that were introduced like Larmour , Deegan this season took full advantage and have there just rewards with a European triumph and maybe a Pro 14 Final in Dublin to come although Munster face them in the Pro 14 Semi Final next weekend.

Huge congratulations to all involved with Leinster Rugby , yesterday was a huge fill up for all in Irish Rugby. Saracens have dominated in recent years, Toulon before that and finally after 6 years an Irish team has climbed back to the summit of European Club Rugby.

By

Cian Mc Gibney

13/05/2018

Ireland 2018 Summer Tour

Ireland –2018 Summer Tour

This June, Ireland head for Australia to take them on in a three Test Series and will be full of confidence after winning a Grand Slam back in March. Joe Schmidt will want his squad to put down a marker ahead of the World Cup in 2019 but more importantly before they face New Zealand in November.

Like the tour of South Africa in 2016, Ireland will want to at the very least get a win in one of the three Tests to show that they can win away from home and on a consistent basis. Joe Schmidt has worked extremely hard since 2015 to bring Ireland to a place where they are able to challenge for trophies on a regular basis.

Here is the squad I would take to Australia in June :

Forwards – Dave Kilcoyne , Cian Healy , Jack Mc Grath , James Cronin.

Sean Cronin , Rory Best , Dave Heffernan , Niall Scannell.

 Finlay Bealham , John Ryan , Tadgh Furlong , Andrew Porter.

Billy Holland , Ultan Dillane , James Ryan , Devin Toner.

Jack O Donoghue , Dan Leavy , Peter O Mahony , Jordi Murphy , Jack Conan , CJ Stander. (23)

 

Backs – Conor Murray , John Cooney , Luke Mc Grath.

Jonathan Sexton , Ross Byrne , Joey Carbery.

Robbie Henshaw , Rory Scannell , Sam Arnold , Bundee Aki , Gary Ringrose.

Andrew Conway , Keith Earls , Matt Healy , Jacob Stockdale , Darren Sweetnam.

Rob Kearney , Jordan Larmour , Tiernan O Halloran.(19)

By

Cian Mc Gibney

07/05/2018