Tuesday 16 July 2019

A Glasgow win would be an ideal start to Christmas

Munster head coach Anthony Foley speaks with his players during squad training ahead of tomorrow's Pro12 clash against Glasgow. Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Munster head coach Anthony Foley speaks with his players during squad training ahead of tomorrow's Pro12 clash against Glasgow. Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Brian Walsh

There won't be much time to celebrate the holidays with the Christmas schedule we have on our plate but all our focus has been on Glasgow this week, and we are going over there to win.

It's been a difficult couple of weeks for Munster but there are still many positives to be taken from the defeats to Clermont and with two bonus points we are still mathematically right in it in the Champions Cup.

We haven't made things easy on ourselves - the loss in Thomond was very frustrating. We never got going and in many ways we beat ourselves. But we came away with something and then the players responded really well last week.

Undoubtedly we played better in France than we did at home, and there are a lot of positives to take out of the weekend.

We used the ball better in attack and caused them some difficulty when we were accurate in our execution, but again there are a lot of aspects we can work on.

Saying all that to be 26-9 down with time running out you would have thought it impossible to come away from that cauldron with anything.

The players showed great character and belief in the way they managed the final quarter: Duncan Casey ran in a hard-earned try and then we forced a free-kick at scrum time to enable us to build phases looking for an opportunity to get within seven points with the clock running down.


The penalty duly came and Ian Keatley slotted it from way out to cap a great kicking display.

Much credit to John Ryan, he came in to replace two international looseheads, Dave Kilcoyne and James Cronin, both out injured, and he put in a good performance.

He had to perform against one of the best front-rows in club rugby and he didn't give them anything easy. We want to promote young indigenous talent like that and it was fantastic to see him perform so well.

It is going to be a busy couple of weeks for him, I feel, but the more game time he gets the better and hopefully we can have the full complement there soon, with Killer and James on the mend.

When you look at the fixture list you probably couldn't dream up a tougher run of games to head into after such a demanding fortnight in Europe.

All of the focus this week has been on the trip to Scotland and we are well aware of the challenges that we face against Glasgow.

Leinster at home will be another big challenge - what a game that promises to be.

There are some games where you can just tell all week in training the boys are up for this. That's not to say the intensity isn't always there, it's just before an inter-pro derby, everybody is that bit more on edge. Everyone wants to play in these games.

Then six days after that game in Thomond we have another crucial inter-pro at the Sportsground. Connacht are going very well this season and they will be meeting us off the back of two games away to Leinster and Ulster. I am sure there will be a warm welcome for us.

But that's all in the distant future and there has been no talk of them in training this week: once we got the review over and done with is was straight down to preparation for Glasgow.

We know we are facing a top side that have come a long way over the last few years and we don't need reminding of what they can produce, especially at Scotstoun.

It's a top-of-the-table clash and they are just one point behind so neither side can afford to lose with what lies ahead. Gregor Townsend has done great things with them and they are certainly the form side.

We need to be able to manage our players correctly off the park throughout the Christmas - if we can get that part right it's half the battle. With games coming thick and fast we will need fresh heads and clear minds and the players need to bring the intensity that we have seen in training all week.

Sometimes you can forget that it's Christmas and it is easy to get carried away with all things rugby. At the same time all of us at Munster want to wish the fans a happy Christmas and we hope that everyone has a happy new year also.

What do I want for Christmas? A win in Glasgow would be nice for starters…

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