Saturday 7 December 2019

'I'm very glad we are backing our squad' - Johann van Graan takes positives from Ben Healy's debut despite loss

29 November 2019; Ben Healy of Munster kicks a penalty against Edinburgh during the Guinness PRO14 Round 7 match between Munster and Edinburgh at Irish Independent Park in Cork. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
29 November 2019; Ben Healy of Munster kicks a penalty against Edinburgh during the Guinness PRO14 Round 7 match between Munster and Edinburgh at Irish Independent Park in Cork. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster coach Johann van Graan praised debutant Ben Healy for the manner in which he recovered from a nightmare start to kick four from four against Edinburgh.

It wasn't enough to prevent a first home loss in almost two years since they went down to Leinster in a festive derby, but van Graan got plenty of positives as an understrength side lost to 18-16 to Edinburgh in Cork.

Healy, in his first competitive start, got a hospital pass from scrum-half Nick McCarthy which ended up conceding a five-metre scrum from which Matt Scott scored a converted try for Edinburgh.

But Healy, who endured a bloody nose on an evening not short of drama for the 20-year old, recovered and slotted four from four off the time and enjoyed plenty of good moments in open play.

"His first game at this level. He's been training with the senior squad since the start of preseason and he went to the Champions Cup games and we warmed him up.

"Like I said at the beginning of the year it's important we don't just throw fellas in. You have got to throw them in at the right time.

"You had JJ (Hanrahan) and Rory (Scannell) the whole week guiding him through it. I was impressed with his goal-kicking and straight after half-time to slot that kick to go 13-10.

"I think that's the secret, you have got to make your squad work and I'm very glad that we are backing our squad," said van Graan.

The Tipperary native, who skippered Glenstal Abbey to their first ever Munster Schools Senior Cup last year, received a huge response from the crowd of 7,580 when he was replaced by Hanrahan on the hour.

Van Graan said while they should have pushed on to win, he was nevertheless pleased with the way his understrength side performed.

"We had opportunities and this is one that got away from us.

"I'm very disappointed we lost the game but for the next group of guys to come in— I think we were 19 or 20 guys we didn't consider for selection for this one — and we were within one penalty kick of winning it," he added.

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