Monday 23 October 2017

Kidney closer to final curtain

Ireland head coach Declan Kidney during the post match press conference after the game
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney during the post match press conference after the game
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Declan Kidney's reign as Ireland coach is expected to end officially this week when the National Team Review Group meet in Portlaoise to sign off on the issue.

It is understood the group had two meetings last week to examine its options, but while an announcement is expected before next weekend, it's not likely to throw any light on Kidney's successor.

Kidney's next move may well be local, where he is being strongly tipped to take over as director of sport in UCC. He picked up an Alumni Award there in 2008 and lives close to the university.

The chances of a quick return to Munster for a third spell in charge were ruled out yesterday by the province's chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald, who endorsed Rob Penney, despite the second-half mauling at the hands of Glasgow in the Pro12 on Friday night.

"No, there are no issues about Rob's future – 100 per cent," Fitzgerald said. "He is on a two-year contract and we expect him to see that out."

The six-try defeat virtually ends any chance of Munster making it into the play-offs of the Pro12.

Penney took over from Tony McGahan last summer and stated from the outset that it would be a two- to three-year job to turn Munster around. They qualified from their Heineken Cup pool as runners-up to Saracens and go to the Stoop next Sunday to face Harlequins in the quarter-final.

The scale of the defeat in Glasgow, which was Munster's biggest since a weakened team conceded 60 to Cardiff in 2004, will increase the pressure on the coach.

Even if there was a will to change coaches half-way through the contract, Munster would be hard pressed to afford it. At a meeting of all staff last Tuesday it was announced that redundancies were coming in an organisation that lost €1m last season.

While it's expected that these cutbacks will start on the administrative side of the business – which is unique in professional rugby in that it operates out of two centres, Limerick and Cork – it is understood that all areas of the operation will come under scrutiny.

A decision on rationalising Munster rugby into one centre will be taken at the end of this season at the latest, with UL the strong favourite to win out.

Irish Independent

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