Munster 12-0 New Zealand, 40 Years On

Munster 12-0 All Blacks – 40 Years On

On this date 40 years ago 15 men from Munster played under captain Donal Caniffe and coach Tom Kieran in Thomond Park against a touring All Blacks side and defeated them 12-0. I can confirm that I was not one of the 100,000 people who claimed to have been there as I was welcomed into the world 12 years later….

All this author can go on is photos and old archive footage with the famous commentary from the Fred Cogley. Of course a play was penned by Alan English who also wrote a book named Alone It Stands.

This two pieces bring to life that never to be forgotten day on October 31st 1978. New Zealand were unbeaten until on that tour and Munster were the only side to beat them and not alone that, they kept them scoreless which was a huge achievement.

Hearing all the different stories that have gone down in folklore, like the coat that was tossed into the air when Christy Cantillion crashed over for his try, I don’t think we will ever know did the coat hit the ground again. I doubt it mattered in light of the result. Tony Ward also contributed points to the cause including a drop goal and a penalty.

Donal Caniffe received devastating news at the conclusion of the game that his father had passed away during the game. He made his way to Cork while his team mates celebrated a momentous victory. This story was very well told in Alan English’s play “Alone It Stands “  So many people claimed to have been there on the day in question but only around 12,000 souls actually made it into the game.

The match ball was rescued by touch judge’s Martin Walsh and John Cole and in the days following the match John received a bill from the Munster Branch for £3 and 8 shillings to replace the match ball, not a bad bill to get given the result of the game.

In 2008, Munster faced the All Blacks on the 30th anniversary of that famous day. On that occasion this author was in the crowd and the match ball was presented to the captain in 1978 Donal Caniffe after being delivered by an Air Corps Helicopter.

Then the teams entered the stage and Munster who had 4 New Zealanders in there squad on the evening, stepped out and led by Rua Tipoki alongside Doug Howlett , Jeremy Manning and Lifimi Mafi and roared on by 26,000 hardy souls they performed a very special Haka to tell New Zealand they were in for a fight and so it proved as only for a late Joe Rokocoko try to cancel out a Munster try by Barry Murphy along with points from Paul Warwick who played at out half.

To the men of 1978 and 2008, well done for keeping the proud tradition of Munster’s never say die attitude alive in both games…..

Schmidt 2018 Squad

Joe Schmidt has selected his 42 man squad to take on Italy, Argentina , New Zealand and USA over the next 4 weeks in the Guinness Series in Chicago where they face Italy , then it’s back to the Aviva to face Argentina , the All Blacks and USA.

People will ask why travel to Chicago to play Italy when they face them every 12 months in the 6 Nations , but this decision is purely down to sponsorship and the fact that there will be three games played on the one day in Soldier Field. That field will evoke memories of the 2016 Test match against the All Blacks that saw Ireland defeat them 40-29.

There are only three new names in the 42 man squad namely Ross Byrne, Sam Arnold and Will Addison who will add to the options at full back and in the centre like Jared Payne did before injury ended his career.

Addison looks a real player in his early appearances for Ulster. Both he and Mike Haley were cleverly recruited but unlike others they won’t have to wait 3 or 5 years to qualify to play for Ireland as both have Irish heritage through parents and grandparents. Although Mike Haley hasn’t been selected in the initial 42 man squad injury may still him involved at some point over the next few weeks.

All the focus will be on the two games against Argentina and New Zealand but the other fixtures will be crucial in preparing Schmidt’s men for the 2019 World Cup. It will give Schmidt the chance to see either Carbery or Byrne start a Test at 10 and see how each man gets on leading his team around the field.

Joey Carbery has been exposed to first team rugby in the out half position since his Munster debut back in September. He has controlled Munster in 2 Heineken Champions Cup games and did an admirable job but still has plenty to learn but this move is already paying off as Joe Schmidt’s two first choice 10s are playing regularly not like 12 months ago where Joey Carbery started at 10 vs. Fiji will little or no rugby at out half in the weeks leading into that game.

This year will be different because he will have had a number of weeks at out half to learn his craft. He will learn the game more and more now since his move, he will learn to play going forward and maybe backward as well which will bring him on leaps and bounds.

Ireland will face Italy in Chicago on Saturday week and I will now try and select the XV that will play Italy :

15 Andrew Conway

14 Darren Sweetnam

13 Sam Arnold

12 Will Addison

11 Jordan Larmour

10 Joey Carbery

9 Luke Mc Grath

8 Jack Conan

7 Dan Leavy

6 Sean O Brien

5 Devin Toner

4 Iain Henderson

3 Finlay Bealham

2 Sean Cronin

1 Jack Mc Grath

16 Niall Scannell

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 John Ryan

19 Quinn Roux

20 Jordi Murphy

21 Kieran Marmion

22 Ross Byrne

23 Stuart Mc Closkey

It’s a huge 4 weeks ahead but the eye can’t be taken from Italy or they could ambush Ireland first up like they did before in the 6 Nations…..

Philly Mc Mahon – Dubs Star

Having watched Philly Mc Mahon’s documentary last night, I have to admit yet another sport star has surprised me with his honesty and openness about a topic very close to his heart. He was very open about his brother battle with drug addiction and the effect it had on him and his family.

I have been very open about my own issues in recent past. Talking about your issues is defiantly the way forward and this particular avenue has been a huge help to me because I now realise what talking and opening up can achieve. It can save someone from cracking under the weight of things that may be bothering them.

I have to admit as I sat and watched Philly talk so openly about all the stuff that has gone on in his life it made me realise how lucky I was that I opened up to people about my troubles because knowing the way I am I would have cracked under the pressure.

Knowing the correct people to talk to is so vital, because life can seem very tough when you think you are alone with your troubles and take it from me who thought for many years he was alone and that these troubles were only being suffered by myself. I fooled myself and thought I’ll fix all these things myself and be a better person for the experience.

I was very wrong to think that I could do it all alone and that thought process nearly cost me everything but thankfully I am on a better road now since 2014. Yes I have had some up’s and downs since then but on the whole life hasn’t been too bad.

I learned a few things from the programme last night and another thing the programme brought home to me is that third level education isn’t for everyone and that there are plenty of way’s to skin a cat and get the opportunities in life that you want. If anything it showed me that not everyone will go the conventional route to get to where they want to be in life.

If people missed out on the programme, get it on the RTE Player I would highly recommend people take time out to watch it…..

Munster Contract Time

Munster Contract Time

Munster today announced another raft of fresh contract extensions and a new signing for next season namely scrum half Nick Mc Carthy who will move from Leinster next year on a two year deal. While this news will be welcomed by most people, it will again beg the question of the Munster Academy set up, why have they had to go to another province yet again to bring in a scrum half when there has been a few options in the Academy in recent years like Jack Stafford, John Poland and a few years ago a player by the name of Jack Cullen was brought in through the Exiles system and played only a few times for Munster A.

Also a player like Ryan Foley who is now plying his trade in France were in the Munster set up and have now gone on to pastures new. Leinster will lose another player and while his opportunities were limited at Leinster by Jamison Gibson Park, Luke Mc Grath and others he has still racked up 30 first team games in the blue of Leinster.

Not for one moment am I say that Munster don’t do good work at academy level and also players reach a certain stage and they will either break through or find other opportunities outside of professional sport.  It is a tough business and only small numbers make it through to play professionally in any position.  As a pro you just have to make the most of every chance that comes your way and you can be certain that Nick Mc Carthy weighted up all his options before agreeing to this move.

On the plus side he will get the chance to play with Joey Carbery and Tyler Bleyendaal while learning from Conor Murray who he will compete with for the 9 jersey. Leinster do seem to be the go too Province if another is struggling to fill a certain gap in a squad. Many men have now made the move south and yes the move east was also fashionable in the not too distant past, men like Mike Ross via Harlequins, Paul Wallace via Saracens, Liam Toland , Brian O Meara have also gone the other way so for people saying it’s always the Leinster players being cherry picked , have a look at old programmes and you will see this move was common long before the professional game took hold.

Munster do need to revise the way they are producing players, yes there are only limited spots in an academy and really only one player in each position will get in if they are lucky so It is a charmed life. As a professional you have to go where the opportunities are and this move from Nick Mc Carthy will also help Joe Schmidt in the long term with more options in the scrum half position.

The men to sign new deals today with Munster are Chris Farrell on a three year deal , Chris Cloete who signed a two year extension to his current three year deal , Neil Cronin , James Cronin and Tommy O Donnell have all signed new two year deals today so it’s a good day for all concerned with Munster Rugby.

Conor Murray New Contract

Conor Murray New Contract

The news that Conor Murray has signed a new deal to take him beyond his original deal which ended in 2019 will be greeted by all Irish rugby supporters with relief because you can be sure some of the French heavy hitters along with some English sides may have been circling with the end of his current contract coming up.

Conor made his Munster debut in 2010 and made his Ireland debut against France before the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. He has developed into one of the World’s best 9’s in the game along with Aaron Smith and Will Genia. His has travelled on two Lions tours in 2013 and 2017, becoming a Test Lion in 2013 and then starting all three Tests in 2017 against New Zealand in the drawn Series.

He has 67 caps for Ireland since 2011, winning Three Six Nations crowns in 2014, 2015 and a Grand Slam in 2018. He also has a Magners League Winners medal with Munster from 2011 when they defeated Leinster in the Final in Limerick.

The continuing question of who is the World’s best 9 will continue but Murray’s consistent performances in green and red have surely brought him close to surpassing Aaron Smith in recent years. He has also the added edge that he can goal kick and has done this for Munster to good success and more latterly for Ireland on the odd occasion.

From a Munster perspective, this news is a much needed boost in the week leading into the opening Heineken Champions Cup game away at Exeter. Although Murray won’t be involved in the match day 23 due to injury, he will help out the other fit 9s in the squad with the execution of the Munster game plan whatever that may be.

The impetus will now be on Munster to introduce some young blood into the scrum half position to learn off Murray from now until 2022. Jack Stafford who may get game time this weekend depending on selection is the current Munster academy 9 and will be working overtime this week to help his chances of gaining selection for this game.

Denis Hurley was 21 when he was introduced to the Munster faithful back in 2008 in Gloucester in the Heineken Cup quarter final in Kingsholm. Munster won that day helped by Hurley, a try by Doug Howlett and some wayward kicking by the usually reliable Chris Paterson. So  Munster have trust young guys before and you can be sure they may do so again , it didn’t end too badly that day in 08 did it ??

The good news of this announcement may help to give the players a boost heading for Sandy Park this weekend, Munster beginning a 23rd campaign in Europe’s premier competition , roll on Saturday at 3.15pm live on BT Sport.

Munster , Turning A Corner

Munster, Turning A Corner??

Have Munster finally turned a corner in their quest to find consistency of performance. They have played 5 games and have been well beaten in the two away fixtures at Cardiff and Glasgow. These results have seen questions raised about their performance levels since the season began.

The addition of Joey Carbery has added some attacking flair to the squad that still needs to smooth out the rough edges to be the complete package and there is no better place to start that process than the Aviva Stadium this Saturday at 6pm against Leinster.

It has been well flagged that Leinster will rest a few players with one on Europe the following week but they will still be in a position to field a XV that will have International quality across the field. The work that has gone into the development of the Leinster squad has to be admired by all involved in Irish rugby.

Munster will have players like Alby Mathewson and Arno Botha to call upon if Johan Van Graan decides to rest some of his front line players like Peter O Mahony and CJ Stander. Munster unlike Leinster do not have the same player resources and have to manage their squad very carefully in the face of European rugby and Pro 14.

The game this weekend is massive for both sides but for Munster it will give them a chance to find a win that could kick start their season and get them on the right footing heading into an extremely testing two weeks where they face Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester.

Johan Van Graan is almost a year into his job after he signed a contract until June 2020. He is now gone beyond the honeymoon period and will now need to start producing the results to match the squad’s ambitions. Two Semi Finals last year was a good end result to a season that saw Van Graan take charge in November 2017.

JP Ferreira was brought on board to look after defence while Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones were kept on as scrum and backs coach. This coaching team is almost a year old and will want to see the fruits of their labour starting with this run of games that will end with Glasgow arriving in Limerick at the end of October.

This fixture is massive for both sides and will give Munster in particular a real insight into how far they have come this year. I will now try and select the two teams that will face off in The Aviva Stadium this weekend.

Leinster XV :

15 Rob Kearney

14 Fergus Mc Fadden

13 Rory O Loughlin

12 Noel Reid

11 James Lowe

10 Ross Byrne

9 Jamison Gibson-Park

8 Jack Conan

7 Sean O Brien

6 Josh Murphy

5 Devin Toner

4 Mick Kearney

3 Andrew Porter

2 James Tracy

1 Peter Dooley

16 Sean Cronin

17 Jack Mc Grath

18 Michael Bent

19 Ian Nagle

20 Dan Leavy

21 Nick Mc Carthy

22 Ciaran Frawley

23 Adam Byrne

Munster XV

15 Andrew Conway

14 Darren Sweetnam

13 Sam Arnold

12 Rory Scannell

11 Keith Earls

10 Joey Carbery

9 Alby Mathewson

8 CJ Stander

7 Chris Cloete

6 Peter O Mahony

5 Tadgh Beirne

4 Jean Kleyn

3 Stephen Archer

2 Niall Scannell

1 James Cronin

16 Kevin O Byrne

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Brian Scott

19 Billy Holland

20 Tommy O Donnell

21 Jack Stafford

22 Ian Keatley

23 Alex Wootton