Friday 6 December 2019

‘A’ stars ready for run in first team – Costello

Munster 'A' coach Ian Costello is hopeful that some of some of his squad will get a deserved call-up to the first team after stellar showings in the B&I Cup.

With international duty depriving Rob Penney of a whole host of his starting side, Costello is confident that whoever receives the call will be ready to take the field against Edinburgh and Scarlets in the coming weeks.

The Munster 'A' side secured their spot in the quarter-final of the B&I Cup after their win over Plymouth Albion at Temple Hill last weekend, but they remain in the dark over the identity of their opponents due to a number of games being called off because of adverse weather conditions in the Britain.

Nevertheless, Munster 'A' took care of their responsibilities with the win on Friday, and a number of players caught Costello's eye.

"With the internationals away for the next while, you'd expect a few of the 'A' side to make the step up in the next few weeks," said Costello.

"Against Plymouth, our pack was outstanding. Sean Dougall and CJ Stander were stand-out guys, while our second-row of Ian Nagle and Dave Foley was tremendous.

"Then the likes of Cathal Sheridan will have to be considered too, especially with Peter Stringer gone for the next few weeks. It goes to show the importance of the B&I Cup games to us.

"In years gone by, we might have had six or seven 'A' games all season, but if we keep going in the competition, we could end up with 13 games. That is great preparation for the guys."

Almost 1,500 Munster fans packed into the home of Cork Constitution on Friday and Costello was delighted to see the 'A' side given such huge support.

"It was a great night. Con have done a lot of work on the ground, the clubhouse looks amazing, and it was a real pleasure for the lads to play there," he said.

"It was a strange game and was scoreless up until close to half-time, but once we had two men sin-binned, the crowd really got behind us because they knew we were up against it. Thankfully, they helped us to the win in the second half."

After his switch from Cork GAA to Munster rugby, much attention has focused on Darren Sweetnam. And after making his debut in that final pool match, the former hurler has been impressing Costello in training.

"We managed to get Darren onto the field for about 20 minutes against Plymouth the last day. He did well -- he didn't put a foot wrong. But people need to realise that he is fairly new to the game and still has a lot to learn," said Costello.

"In training you can see what a talented athlete he is. Every now and again he comes out with an incredible touch, he looks very exciting. But the main thing for him in the next while is minutes on the pitch. That is crucial for him.

"But we have quite a bit of talent in the backs. Luke O'Dea is just back from injury, while Danny Barnes was unfortunate to pick up a knock the last day. Then we have Ivan Dineen, who has been terrific the last couple of games, and Ronan O'Mahony. There is serious contention for places now, which is a real bonus for us."

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