Monday 22 January 2018

Glasgow semi-final loss is still very raw

Former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam looked comfortable against Cardiff and is one of Munster’s young players who are making the most of the absence of the province’s international players
Former Cork hurler Darren Sweetnam looked comfortable against Cardiff and is one of Munster’s young players who are making the most of the absence of the province’s international players

Ian Costello

The Scarlets game last weekend was a difficult one to review, as it was a match we hoped to win but in the end had to be content with a draw after a late comeback.

It was frustrating in one sense because we should never have been in that situation at the end as we had the lion's share of the possession and territory.

To find ourselves 12 points behind with 10 minutes to go was disappointing, so it made JJ Hanrahan's try at the end a little bittersweet.

We had plenty of quality possession but didn't use the ball as accurately as we would have liked. Early in the game we struggled to exit from our '22' and both factors combined to keep them in the game.

It was particularly frustrating to concede a try from a block-down.

The scrum can be a frustrating part of the game these days and it wasn't any different in Wales - the interpretation is causing problems because it's difficult to get the consistency you want.

Either side of half-time at Parc y Scarlets we conceded penalties within kicking range and Steve Shingler slotted them over.

It wasn't one-sided, though, as Scarlets were also penalised multiple times.

On a positive note, we have players who are definitely coming into form now plus a number of our younger squad members have made the most of the absence of the international players.


Rory Scannell and Darren Sweetnam looked very comfortable against Cardiff, and Jack O'Donoghue performed particularly well against Cardiff and Scarlets.

He has shown signs of the potential he has, performed well in attack and defence and topped all of that off with two tries. Jack will add a huge amount to an already incredibly competitive back-row.

Dave Kilcoyne and CJ Stander were solid on their full 80 minutes back - CJ despite a five-week absence was prominent throughout the game.

He worked hard with the strength and conditioning coaches to get back fit. He is in incredible shape and hopefully he can show more of the same against Glasgow this weekend.

Dave was extremely unlucky to pick up that injury in the Clermont game and has been on the sideline for a few months.

It's great to see him back in the fray as well, and their ball-carrying abilities will add significantly to our attack at this crucial stage of the league.

We know what a massive game we have this weekend. It's a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash and Glasgow pose a massive threat all over the park.

It is a sobering thought that we have only beaten them once in our last five meetings, and we will be under no illusions heading to Irish Independent Park tomorrow.

Thinking back to the Cardiff game two weeks ago, the atmosphere in the ground was fantastic and we hope the Munster faithful can come in their droves tomorrow to cheer us again this time around.

We have worked hard this week to prepare for the intensity and physicality that comes with playing Glasgow.

The loss to them in last year's Pro12 semi-final is still very raw with a lot of the players.

If we can get the possession and territory like we did last weekend and use the ball more accurately we will be in a better position this time.

Elsewhere, the following day Ireland play England in what is another massive game for the country.

It's a clash of two quality coaches but I believe Ireland have the edge that can help them win this one.

The thing that you can be certain of is that Ireland will be very well prepared - their tactics can change from game to game but the same fundamentals are always there.

We have seen it already in this Six Nations - Ireland play a combative style of rugby and they like to wear other teams down.

It's not by chance that they seem to pull away in the third quarter of most games and I have a feeling that something similar could happen on Sunday if everything goes to plan.

It's a massive game for Ireland - they have a mammoth task ahead of them and so do we.

It's going to be a pivotal weekend for both of us.

Irish Independent

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