Saturday 21 October 2017

Leamy: Silverware the best way to honour Rob Penney era

Simon Zebo catches a pass during training before tomorrow’s game against Ulster DIARMUID GREENE/SPORTSFILE
Simon Zebo catches a pass during training before tomorrow’s game against Ulster DIARMUID GREENE/SPORTSFILE

Denis Leamy

Munster will be very anxious to finish on a high at Thomond Park tomorrow and if their performance against Edinburgh is anything to go by, then I think they will sign off their final home match in some style.

You would like to think, of course, that this won't be the final home match of the season, but it is hard to see Glasgow Warriors slipping up when they host Zebre tomorrow.

There is a real edge to Glasgow this season and I just can't see them being surprised by the Italians. They have learnt a lot of hard lessons in the past few years and I have little doubt they will mess up this one.

Ulster can't get a home semi-final and it looks like they will be heading to Leinster next weekend, so it is hard to know what approach they will take to this game in Limerick tomorrow.

But I think Munster will just decide to concentrate on their own game and make sure they turn up and deliver a big performance.

I thought they were superb against Edinburgh. There were 11 changes and the disappointment of the Toulon defeat would have still been in their system.

But they showed again the brand of rugby they can play when they impose their game on teams. They really create huge scoring opportunities and last weekend they took them. There is no arguing with scoring seven tries away from home, no matter who the opposition is or how they are playing.

RESPONSE

It was a great response to the loss in Marseille. There were a lot of changes but it was a really professional performance and there were some great performances.

I thought Paddy Butler – not because he is a Cashel man! – was superb and he is really going to push for a place next season. He was in position this season until he got injured but he is back to his best.

Tommy O'Donnell also had a great match and that was good to see. It has been a difficult season for him with injury. A year ago he was on a high after his Heineken Cup displays but injury has held him back this year. Players have to go through that and hopefully that is now behind him and I would hope he is going to be heading to Argentina.

I said it at the time, but I felt his confidence must have been rattled when he was dropped off the bench during the Six Nations. I hope that didn't affect him too much, but it is the sort of thing which can rattle a fella's confidence.

It is one thing to be dropped after a poor display on the field, but to be dropped from the bench, when you can do nothing about it, can be a right kick.

In any event, hopefully he has put that and his injury trouble behind him and is set for some great days with Munster and Ireland. Certainly, last weekend he was looking sharp and I hope he has a big finish to the season.

You would have thought tomorrow's game would have been a real fixture with qualification for the semi-finals riding on it but once again Ospreys failed to deliver and a five-horse race was reduced to four when they blew it away to Zebre.

The league table shows how strong Ireland is doing at the moment, but it is frightening that none of the Welsh teams are in contention. Indeed, from weeks back only the Ospreys were left in the mix and we saw what happened to them last week.

There are certainly issues there for the league to sort out. The Welsh clubs, or regions, have not really performed in recent years, despite how well their national side has been doing. It just doesn't add up.

There may not be a semi-final spot or a home venue to play for tomorrow evening, but there will still be a lot of pride at stake and a lot of lads will be battling to be included on the tour to Argentina.

It will probably be Rob Penney's last match and lads will want to send him off with a win and so too will the supporters. He has only been here less than two years, but I think he will be forever held in high esteem by Munster people because he has done an awful lot since he arrived.

Winning the league is the only way now to secure some silverware for his term in charge, but we will have to wait until next week for that battle to move up a notch when, in all probability, we will be looking forward to the semi-final in Glasgow.

Munster will want to head into that on the back of another good win and I think they will do just that.

Indo Sport

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport