Friday 24 January 2020

'I'd like to see the boys click and deliver what we know they have'

My Munster Peter Cronin

Waterford man and Munster Peter Cronin admires the commitment of Billy Holland. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Waterford man and Munster Peter Cronin admires the commitment of Billy Holland. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

1. What was your first Munster Rugby match?

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It's so long ago I can't really remember. I came to rugby as an adult but even though I have lived in Dublin for all my adult life I couldn't turn blue as many people I knew had done.

2. What Munster game sticks out in your memory and why?

There are three moments: The crowd scenes from Limerick on the big screens on the day of the final in 2006. It set the players on fire, followed by Peter Stringer's try to win the match. Nothing short of breathtaking. Then Andrew Conway's wonder try against Toulon was another classic moment.

3. What current Munster player do you looking forward to watching?

Peter Cronin
Peter Cronin

Billy Holland. Billy rarely gets noticed but he puts in an enormous amount of work, in every game he plays. Billy epitomises the 'stand up and fight' mentality. He leads by example and all in spite of being usually overlooked by Ireland. An old-fashioned Munster hero.

4. Describe the most memorable Munster score you've seen?

Perhaps not the most memorable, but Andrew Conway's solo try against Toulon puts a smile on my face every time I watch it back. The vision, the ability, the step to finish it off. All the commentator could say was his name. And best of all the stunned look on the faces of the Toulon players.

5. You're given a blank cheque to sign any player in the world. Who would it be?

I would bring in Faf de Klerk, or maybe Niko Matawalu for the magical spark they bring. Both are mercurial and unpredictable, both have the ability to change a frame in a single moment and set us on fire as fans. Don't ask me to choose.

6. Earliest rugby memory?

Playing back garden rugby, three-a-side as kids with Hugo MacNeill (and never losing if I was on his team). I was rubbish, he was great.

7. Where do you sit or stand in Thomond Park?

At the 22 on the south-west side, right at the front so it feels like I am still on the terrace below me; and yes I am a season ticket holder.

8. Which overseas player that represented the province is or was your favourite?

It has to be Federico Pucciariello. He became a real Munster man for me and had the passion for the team. Again, a solid squad player but just put everything he had into every game he played. He was even a Barbarian.

9. What is your favourite away ground?

It's probably the RDS because it has something like the right atmosphere. There is always a good crowd and it's much better than a half-empty Aviva Stadium. Edinburgh is terrible with all the empty seats, and it always rains in Galway. So it has to be the RDS for me.

10. What player from another Irish province do you admire?

John Cooney. He has played for every province except Munster and is finally showing what he can do. It takes a lot to go on the grand tour, and an awful lot to replace Ruan Pienaar but he has done exactly that. Maybe David Nucifora was right.

11. What is your favourite Munster jersey and what does it remind you of?

I still wear my 2006 home and away jerseys (the away one is grey). Fond memories of the final but the semi too thanks to the Ronan O'Gara try.

12. What team in any other sport other than Munster Rugby do you follow?

The Waterford hurlers.

13. What game in Munster's history would you love to go back to and attend?

The All Blacks in 1979. It would have added years to my rugby-following career, and added a lot of fun.

14. You have one wish for Munster this season. What is it?

To get the reward for all the work. As Peter O'Mahony said last year, I am sick of semi-finals. I'd like to see the boys click and actually deliver what we know they have to give. It's been a long time since we had some silverware. I'd like some for this team.

15. Invite three Munster players past or present to dinner. Who would you bring?

From the past: I want to hear the stories first-hand from Peter Stringer, The row with Rob Penney, the heartbreak of leaving Munster, and the moments of glory. From the current team: I would bring David Kilcoyne. He has fought so hard to be in the Ireland set-up, always been underrated and now he is there. I want to know what it took. And I have to have The Man, the only one who bridges both eras, Keith Earls. I want to know how he does it.

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