Saturday 24 March 2018

Dempsey delighted with his selection headaches

Leinster boss Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster boss Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

This time last year, World Cup constraints meant that Leo Cullen was already delving deep into the talent pool at Leinster.

Twelve months on and without any such distractions, Cullen faces the kind of selection headaches that every coach welcomes.

The international players are streaming back into contention week by week ahead of the crucial upcoming European period.

Plenty of players have staked their claim for the long season ahead, and backs coach Girvan Dempsey has welcomed the dilemmas that come with in-form players.

Dempsey has worked closely with plenty of the younger crop during his time with the Academy and he is delighted to see the likes of Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath and Ross Molony impress in the opening rounds of the Pro12.

"Across the board, there's a lot of players who have been great and they've shown in through pre-season, in training and in the friendly matches that we had," the former Leinster and Ireland full-back explained.

"Dan Leavy and all those guys have been excellent throughout. It's great to see those guys come and take the opportunity.

"It's great for the squad. It puts pressure on the international players as well to make sure they're on form.

"No-one can sit on their laurels and expect to be selected. They have to show that they are performing well and that they warrant the selection.

"It's great to have a lot of those young guys because it gives us that strength in depth."

One of those international players is Sean Cronin and he has watched young hooker James Tracy develop his game in the early season opportunities.

The Ospreys are this evening's visitors to the RDS and Cronin is under no illusions as to the scale of the task that lies ahead against the league leaders.

Tonight's clash against the Welsh outfit is the first home game of the season and the Limerick native is eager to put in a performance that would cut the Ospreys lead at the top.


"You can see by their start, 15 points in three games and 21 tries. They have huge experience coming back. Alun Wyn Jones and Biggar come off the bench last week, Cronin said.

"They're an incredibly well rounded team: strong maul, excellent back-row with (Justin) Tipuric there. Excellent half-backs and (Josh) Matavesi in the centre to get over the gain-line.

"It's going to be tough. We're going to have to be at our best to get a result."

Leinster haven't lost at home in 19 months and if they are at their best, that record will continue.

Irish Independent

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