Monday 18 November 2019

Dempsey: 'I couldn't refuse Leinster'

Having made huge strides coaching with Academy and Emerging Ireland, Girvan Dempsey has a great understanding with young talents
Having made huge strides coaching with Academy and Emerging Ireland, Girvan Dempsey has a great understanding with young talents
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The offer to step up and become a permanent fixture in the Leinster backroom team was an offer Girvan Dempsey simply couldn't refuse, even if it came a little sooner than expected.

Having made huge strides coaching with the Academy and Emerging Ireland, the backs coach (40) has forged a great understanding with exciting young talents like Garry Ringrose and Cathal Marsh.

Accepting the two-year deal was a logical step in his "career direction" and maintaining that continuity is something Dempsey sees as "two-fold".

"It's fortunate for me because I know those players really well. I've coached them through underage for the last three years and for them to know how I coach, and what I expect and demand, that can only be positive," Dempsey said.

"It's good to have that understanding and it's really enjoyable because having worked with those players and now seeing them step up and show their worth at Pro12 level, there is a tangible improvement every week."

Fostering the exuberance of youth and allowing players to be creative and express themselves on the field of play, a la Brian O'Driscoll and Johnny Sexton, has always been the Leinster way.

And Leinster's attacking style under head coach Leo Cullen, with huge emphasis on quick offloading, has received high praise in recent games.

The former Heineken Cup winner expects more of the same throughout the season when 19 players return from World Cup duty.

"The way I'm trying to set up is I'm trying to grow our game, realising with the young crop of players that we have and realising what's worked for them through the ages over the last number of years," Dempsey said.

"But we're also trying to develop the game so that when the international players come back into the frame, we can grow it even further. There was no point trying to run before we could walk.

"We've been trying to put in steps, implementing different ways of attacking and I think we've managed to achieve that. We're moving in the right direction but I feel like we've got a lot more to deliver.

"I think that was the one message from the Dragons match, we were pleased with the performance but we still left a lot of opportunities out there from how we trained during the week.

"We're putting a framework in place to give players the opportunity to make decisions on the field, trying to create smart footballers that can make those decisions."

The 82-time Irish international sees great value in the current period for the Leinster youngsters. "They see it as a window to impress, a window to try and grab hold of a jersey and show what they're capable of," he said.

"They realise that professional sport is fickle and you have to grasp any opportunity that's provided because there are contracts on the line."

The demands Cullen places on quality in training and games has impressed Dempsey but he also appreciates how quickly the positivity could be eroded with defeat away in Llanelli tonight.

"They're looking good at the moment, they've three wins and they're probably the form side in the Pro12. They're a formidable side, particularly at home," he said.

"Our performance away to Edinburgh was disappointing. We didn't execute the plays the way we wanted to.

"We know against Scarlets that we're going to have to show more solidity in our set-pieces and be consistent.

"If we don't take our chances, it'll be a tough day at the office."

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