Sunday 25 September 2016

Sherry begs Munster fans to keep the faith

Hooker admits Quinlan 'right to question the performances' but insists Reds will get it right

David Kelly and Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 14/01/2016 | 02:30

Hooker Mike Sherry’s attempts to rouse the restless faithful cannot but help resort to the familiar, familial sense of desperate salvation: SPORTSFILE
Hooker Mike Sherry’s attempts to rouse the restless faithful cannot but help resort to the familiar, familial sense of desperate salvation: SPORTSFILE

It is one of sport's many curiosities; the worse a team plays on a Saturday, the better they appear to go in training.

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"Jeez, we were flying it in training all week! And then this!"

Munster's apparent inability to translate their training ground form to match-days has been alarming.

The parachuting of Andy Farrell will seek to alleviate the yawning gap yet, oddly, the coach with no "specific functions", but also a vast remit, will only work two days a week and never get to see why it all crumbles to pieces on a Saturday. Go figure.

The players remain the primary figures in the firing line; the amount of times one hears that they can't be faulted for effort - surely the primary ingredient of a well-paid professional - usually means that the quality of that effort is sorely lacking.

For all the myriad of long-term problems facing Munster, the short-term task is simple.

A remedy must be found to restore a semblance of local pride against Stade Francais in Saturday at Thomond Park; the almost apologetic lunch-time kick-off reflects the fact that nobody else in Europe will really care.

Hooker Mike Sherry's attempts to rouse the restless faithful cannot but help resort to the familiar, familial sense of desperate salvation, even in a week when the home truths delivered by Irish Independent columnist Alan Quinlan cut so deep.

"Everyone's entitled to an opinion, the fact that he is on Sky, a lot has been made of it," Sherry responds.

"He is right to question the performances.

"There are certain things I would disagree with. I do think we are a talented group. We have a lot of heart. We are trying incredibly hard. I have faith, I have belief in this group and I do think that we can do something good this year.

"We can still win a league, we can still put our best foot forward in Europe and finish on 15 points if we get two bonus point victories.

"I only care about what the players I play with, the coaches that are coaching me and my family and immediate friends are saying.

Hardest

"Obviously I care. And the fans are struggling at the minute to see what we are trying to do on the pitch. But all I can ask for is them to stick with us and we will try our absolute hardest to set it right this weekend."

Whether Farrell can help in this short-term is moot; this week, they all dutifully praise him, yet you suspect many may have turned their noses up a week earlier had one deigned to suggest Anthony Foley and his indigenous colleagues needed a dig-out.

"Regardless of what situation we are in. . . if we were top of the league and top of our European pool. . . I think he is a good appointment," reasons Sherry.

"I don't see it as undermining the coaches. I think he is a great appointment. I am not sure of his exact role."

Sherry should, perhaps, be taken at his word; asked if he would have welcomed Australian hooker Stephen Moore to challenge his authority, the Limerick native doesn't demur.

Interestingly, the IRFU blocked this overseas appointment to the roster, although Foley's inconsistent utterances on the issue have hardly clarified yet another grey area.

After his lengthy injury travails, Sherry personifies much of Munster in that his current relevance to the international team is negligible; he wasn't at the Carton House get-together, but that's the price one pays for individual and collective lack of performance.

"It was a goal of mine and I was disappointed but there's no point in complaining about it," he says. "We're not winning at the minute which obviously affects our chances as a group to get more Munster people up there.

"I obviously haven't done enough to play myself in there, so put my head down and put in another two big European weekends in a row.

"I just have to keep getting my set-piece right, keep getting my hands on the ball, get more turnovers and keep improving to get there."

Except, like many of his colleagues, getting from here to there seems to be quite the distance.

Irish Independent

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