Tuesday 16 January 2018

Scannell keen to make most of Reds break in Connacht derby clash

Niall Scannell, Munster 'A', is tackled by Pale Nonu, Plymouth Albion. British & Irish Cup, Munster 'A' v Plymouth Albion, Regional Sports Ground, Waterford
Niall Scannell, Munster 'A', is tackled by Pale Nonu, Plymouth Albion. British & Irish Cup, Munster 'A' v Plymouth Albion, Regional Sports Ground, Waterford

Declan Rooney

Christmas has come early for Munster's fourth-choice hooker Niall Scannell.

Just three weeks ago he was making plans to take on Plymouth Albion in the British & Irish Cup, but suddenly he has been catapulted into the front line.

Last Friday he had moved up to third in the pecking order following Mike Sherry's knee injury and by kick-off on Saturday against the Scarlets he was promoted to the bench when Damien Varley was ruled out through illness.

Thirty minutes later, he was making his first senior appearance when Duncan Casey retired early with a head injury.

The promotion through the ranks was a rapid one, but the former Irish U-20 captain says he is thrilled to get a taste at the top table.

"I was just lucky to get the call that morning to come into the squad and to get so much game time," he said.

"I wouldn't have expected to get that much game time so I was delighted.

UNFORTUNATE

"But it was very unfortunate to see one of my colleagues get injured so from that point of view it was a bit disappointing, but I was just lucky to get the opportunity and I hope I took it to the best of my ability.

"It was an outstanding experience, the level was just so high and I was just happy to be part of it and to be part of such a special game where we had to grind it out in the end was outstanding so I'm just delighted all round," added the 21-year-old Dolphin front-row.

Depending on Varley's prognosis and Casey's progress through concussion protocols, Scannell could be in line to make his first start for the province when Connacht roll up to Thomond Park on Friday.

And while he sounded a note of warning to Munster fans to beware of a Connacht side with two wins from their last three games in all competitions, Scannell says he is ready for the challenge.

"We're happy to go into the Christmas break with a win like that under our belts, so a win at home and putting on a good show in front of the Cork fans is always good as well.

"This is a very competitive league and we won't be taking anybody for granted.

"We know it's going to be a tough ask so we'll relax, recover and be ready to come out after Christmas to play Connacht in Thomond Park.

"Yeah, I might have got an early present, but I'm hoping to get something else," said Scannell.

Irish Independent

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