Saturday 22 July 2017

McGahan wants home comforts on the road

Munster's Tom Glesson, left, Jerry Flannery and Dave Ryan take shelter from the rain during yesterday's training session at University of Limerick. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Munster's Tom Glesson, left, Jerry Flannery and Dave Ryan take shelter from the rain during yesterday's training session at University of Limerick. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Tony McGahan highlighted the need for Munster to reproduce their home form on the road as Friday night's Magners League clash in Edinburgh looms.

A poor return of just two wins from nine away matches took the sting out of Munster's title assault last season, condemning them to fourth place in the league and an away semi-final against Leinster, which they lost.

McGahan will have Ronan O'Gara, Donncha O'Callaghan and Tomas O'Leary available for the trip to Murrayfield -- and he admits results need to improve.

"As the competition has evolved, sides at home are so difficult to beat," he said. "You look at the sides who maybe don't finish at the top but they're still very hard to turn over.

"As teams get better, they make it their fortress at home, and to break that down is very difficult. One of our big things this year is addressing our form on the road, which was poor.


"To progress, you really need to make sure you win your games on the road. You need a strong focus and a really strong business-like approach for away trips. You have to take into account that things aren't going to go your way.

"You need to fight through it and we're looking forward to displaying that this weekend."

McGahan will once again have to do without Paul O'Connell, who is joined on the sidelines by a host of other injured players. Lifeimi Mafi has resumed full training after a shoulder operation in the summer, but won't be available for selection until next week.

Lions trio Jerry Flannery, Keith Earls and David Wallace are also unavailable. Flannery has recovered from the calf injury that curtailed his involvement for part of last season, but sits this one out with a hamstring strain picked up during pre-season training.

Wallace has an ongoing back problem, while Earls is not expected back until the first game of the Heineken Cup due to an ankle problem. Also on the injury-list are Barry Murphy (ankle), Dave Ryan (quad), James Coughlan (concussion), Tom Gleeson and Declan Cusack (both groin).

Once again there is a youthful feel to Munster's squad, with four development players included -- Danny Barnes, Ian Nagle, Scott Deasy and Peter O'Mahony.

The expectation from the Munster camp is that all or some of the new trainees (eight in total) will be pushing hard for Heineken Cup spots come the latter stages of the season, and not just Magners League places.

When asked about their progress, McGahan was happy to pay tribute to the impact his budding stars have already made.


"Those players have been training with us for the last two years," he said. "We started a programme to identify a group of academy players that would be with us in some capacity, and that has been built up over the last two years. They have integrated into the squad from a rugby sense, from a strength and conditioning sense, and from a social sense.

"They are very comfortable with the environment, which is an important part of a player's development.

"It's fine being able to cope on the field but being part of the social setting is also important, to make your mark and not feel intimidated.

"The senior players welcome the challenge, they welcome the competitive environment, and they welcome the enthusiasm that the young players bring, not only to the training sessions but also to the squad.

"As young players, they carry no baggage and we want to encourage that."

Irish Independent

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