Highfield powerhouse James Cronin’s form is a boost for Munster coach

Highfield powerhouse James Cronin’s form is a boost for Munster coach
James Cronin of Munster goes over to score his side's first try despite the tackle by Olly Cracknell of Ospreys. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

LIKE any good coach, Johann van Graan will always have areas that he wants to work on with his team.

Yet a bonus-point win in difficult playing conditions – even on a 4G surface – showed that he has plenty to be happy about.

Not least the maturity young Cork man Jack O’Sullivan showed in the back-row as well as the return to form of try-scorer and long-term injury absentee James Cronin.

O’Sullivan, affectionately known as Josser, made a total of 10 carries in attack and also was busy in defence making seven tackles in the 57 minutes he was on the pitch before being replaced by Arno Botha.

“I said to the squad that it’s important that you integrate young players into your squad, that’s why I went with Jack O’Sullivan in the starting team together with Tommy and Jack O’Donoghue and from the bench we had Arno, Craig Casey and JJ to make sure we give them the best possible chance of making a different.

“It won’t always turn into the perfect picture but we’re very happy with him.”

James Cronin showed why he is such a huge asset to the club with their first try after 16 minutes. His kick chase has long been one of his strongest traits and the Highfield man is very quick for a prop. He showed that after he was at the end of a break made by Dan Goggin.

Cronin is in a rich vein of form having scored three tries the previous weekend for Highfield in the AIL.

Another player who is showing well early in the season is man of the match Mike Haley.

“He scored the try of the game which he created and finished and certainly has put the disappointment of not making the Ireland squad for Japan behind him.

“I thought he did a lot of good things. Big players bring you big moments and I thought that last kick which he kicked long and he worked very hard for a full-back at that stage of the game, I think it was 77 or 78 minutes, sprinted and got the kick pressure and got the line-out for them a few yards from their own line.

“We got that back after they kicked it out and we went on to score from there, so that is what you want in your team.”

The sides will meet again in the Champions Cup but last Friday night’s game will have little bearing on the European game.

“Look, it is obviously the same coaching staff.

“Obviously, you want to win every single game, but we have a lot of respect for them. Once we get into Europe what happens tonight won’t really matter.”

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