Club Focus: Young Munster - Ambitious Cookies vow to stay 'at the forefront of Irish rugby'
Following their impressive 7-6 win over Ballynahinch last Saturday, Young Munster claimed third spot in Division 1 of the All Ireland League, strengthening their position to make the top four play-offs.
The Limerick outfit travel to Castle Avenue tomorrow to take on second placed Clontarf, in what club president Tony Cusack says will be a tough challenge.
"They're a very good side," says Cusack. "We've played Clontarf ten times in the AIL and have only ever won once and that was in Limerick, so we haven't had a great deal of success in the past.
"We have a very hard working group of players who are doing well at training and constantly improving so we'll certainly travel to Dublin with confidence, but we're well aware we'll be in for a tough day at the office.
Finishing fourth in the league last season Cusack feels the squad have been building well this year and is confident they have a very balanced group.
"We finished well last year and this year have a great mix of youth and experience," he says. "We've one or two lads on the squad who are in their first year of AIL rugby, but certainly I would say overall the squad is fairy experienced at this stage.
"We've also been extremely fortunate in terms of injuries. We've been very unlucky in this regard in the past but this year, thankfully, we haven't lost any key players.
"There's only a limited squad in every club and if you can manage to keep players fit on a game to game basis it can mean a lot for overall success.
Young Munster host UCD on March 5, which precedes a mouth-watering local derby fixture against Garryowen, who lie in fourth place, and will also be seeking a top-four finish.
"In terms of excitement, I think all fixtures between Garryowen and Young Munster are thrilling encounters," says Cusack.
"Over the last number of years there's been mixed results between both sides. Home advantage means a lot in the AIL - so I think Garryowen being at home for that fixture would certainly be a big plus factor for them.
"That said, you can never predict a result in local derbies - it brings out an extra dimension in everybody's game and I've no doubt both sides will be well up for it.
"It's the only local derby we have in the league as unfortunately Garryowen and ourselves are the only two Limerick clubs in Division 1A.
"It's also coming to a time where it's really the business end of the season so depending on results in the intervening games it could be a crucial encounter for final placings.
"All that aside it doesn't matter - any fixture between ourselves and Garryowen would be a much anticipated prospect and that's for sure."
With one league title to their credit, claimed in season 1992-93, Cusack says Young Munster's overall goal is to finish the league in the top four and go on to win the trophy for a second time.
"We've always been an ambitious club," says Cusack. "We were one of the founder member clubs of the AIL - playing in Division 2 in the very first season, and we got promoted in that first year.
"We've always been in the top two divisions and it is our aim to continue to be at the forefront of Irish rugby.
"Every club starts off the league with a number one mantra of not getting relegated, but number two is to get into the play-offs, and for a club of our size, stature and history, our supporters would expect us to get to the top four as often as we possibly can and that is what we will be striving for."