Sunday 17 December 2017

Marsh's leadership can carry Leinster 'A' over line – Dempsey

Girvan Dempsey
Girvan Dempsey
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As Leinster 'A' head coach Girvan Dempsey put it, training this week has been strange given that the province's sole focus is on the 'A' side's quest to retain the British and Irish Cup.

With several of Leinster's senior squad training with Ireland this week, those remaining with the province ran Leeds Carnegie's lines as his side gets to grips with the challenge that awaits from the English Championship team.

Prior to their quarter-final and semi-final clashes, Dempsey spoke of the difficulties in having limited time with his squad due to the senior side preparing for Heineken Cup clashes.

"It's a bit strange having so much time with the lads this week," the former Ireland international admitted.

"It's been good for the last while – Matt (O'Connor) has been great. We had the players last week for a session and again all this week.

"Generally we would be assisting the senior team in prepping for their games, but this week has been really beneficial."

No team has ever successfully defended the British and Irish Cup since its inauguration in the 2009/10 season, but Dempsey believes that his side's success last year has made them hungry for more.

"To see what it meant to the players and the club to get that success was massive," he said.

"The amount of good will we got when we came back from Newcastle was great. The seniors had obviously won the Amlin on the same day and they were nearly more overjoyed for us. I suppose they had seen how much the team had grown and evolved last year."

Dempsey is expecting a tough challenge from Leeds, who were knocked out of the Championship play-off by a narrow two-point aggregate margin last weekend, and they have retained 10 of the side who started that game.

Cathal Marsh is the tournament's top points scorer and Dempsey is expecting his fly-half to again be the fulcrum.

"We've proven that we can vary our game depending on the opposition and conditions and that is the beauty of the British and Irish Cup.

"You're never faced with the same type of rugby. You always have to adapt and this really tests the players' ability to make decisions at crucial times.

"For me, Cathal Marsh has been excellent this year. He's carried his form from last year into this season and he's shown a huge amount of leadership in the way that he is managing games at the moment."

Noel Reid and Brendan Macken start in the centre outside Marsh and with Jack Conan and Tadhg Furlong included in the pack, Leinster's blend of youth and experience should be enough to see them make history in the competition.

Verdict: Leinster 'A'

Leinster 'A' – D Hudson; S Coghlan-Murray, B Macken, N Reid, D Fanning; C Marsh, L McGrath; J O'Connell, J Tracy, T Furlong; B Marshall, Q Roux; J Conan, D Ryan (capt), L Auva'a. Reps: B Byrne, E Byrne, R Molony, J van der Flier, J Cooney, C O'Shea, A Boyle.

Leeds Carnegie – S McColl; J Holmes, J Clarke, F Burdon, D Doherty; J Bentley, J Doherty; C Beech, J Graham, D Tussac; C Green, M Myerscough; D Sisi, C Walker, J Rowan (capt). Reps: P Nilsen, L Imiolek, B Hooper, M Smith, R Beck, C Georgiou, J Barker, G Hughes.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport