Saturday 21 October 2017

McGahan options stretched to limit

Tony McGahan with his injured captain Paul O'Connell at yesterday's training session ahead of their Magners League game against Treviso on Friday night.
Tony McGahan with his injured captain Paul O'Connell at yesterday's training session ahead of their Magners League game against Treviso on Friday night.

Munster have included just about every available senior player in their 28-man squad for this weekend's Magners League clash against Treviso.

Without the services of eight backs and three forwards, Tony McGahan has called up fledgling Cork duo Dave Ryan and Ivan Dineen to bolster their injury and suspension-hit squad.

Team manager Shaun Payne gave a lamentable breakdown of the injury situation yesterday, with Jerry Flannery's most recent setback at the top of a sobering list.

The 32-year-old is being assessed by a specialist in Cork following on from his shortlived comeback against Toulon, but no more updates are expected until the end of the week.

"It's really disappointing for ourselves and for Jerry," said Payne. "He's really gutted."

Flannery has been dogged by injuries over the past number of years and only managed to start five games for Munster last term.

His hopes of starting this season afresh were spoiled by a pinched nerve in his back, which led to problems with his calf and then his hamstring.

Having come through unscathed for Shannon against Garryowen two weeks ago, however, it was assumed that he was good to go, only for him to limp off 21 minutes into his comeback with a reoccurrence of the calf injury.

Asked if the hooker's return to action was in any way rushed, Payne answered: "No, we had taken the precaution of not rushing him back the week before and instead we put him through 40 minutes of a club game. He came through that with flying colours, felt really good in training, and we were confident that he was 100pc ready to go."

In other injury news, there was no clear indication of when to expect Barry Murphy back after he also broke down prior to last week's 'A' game in Waterford, while Danny Barnes is looking at six weeks out having dislocated his shoulder in that same match.

Despite the injury list, McGahan could conceivably name the same starting XV this Friday night, though Payne hinted at one or two changes.

Donncha O'Callaghan is approaching the maximum number of games he is allowed to play as dictated by national management, and he looks odds on to be rested.

Denis Leamy could also sit this one out having started six games this season, though there is unlikely to be any respite for Johne Murphy, who has started seven.

"There isn't as much loading on the backs as there is in the forwards," Payne reasoned. "Plus we're slightly under-staffed in the backs at the minute."

With Ireland's autumn series just around the corner, it remains to be seen whether Murphy or any of Munster's other international call-ups will be available for the trip to Ulster on Friday week.

"Obviously, that will depend on what their strategy is in terms of whether they want guys playing the week before or not," Payne concluded. "That will be worked out at the beginning of next week."

Irish Independent

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