David Corkery: Positives for Munster as young players show the right attitude

Despite a low-scoring loss away to Connacht, all hope is not lost thanks to the next generation of Reds
David Corkery: Positives for Munster as young players show the right attitude

Munster's Gavin Coombes and Jean Kleyn driving forward. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

DESPITE the result, the honesty of a youthful Munster side away to Connacht has to be seen as a positive.

If this was the first game of rugby you ever watched, you probably wouldn’t be rushing back to watch another!

The burly wind and misty rain didn’t exactly help matters but the players gave everything they had. And at least the game went ahead at a time when sporting fixtures are getting postponed at a very alarming rate.

As expected, Connacht went about their business with an all-encompassing brand by looking to keep the ball alive at all times and stretch Munster’s defence in all areas of the field.

Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Bundie Aki and Sammy Arnold formed the central axis to all of Connacht’s efforts to make inroads beyond Munster’s first-up tacklers, but the visitors were happy to put their bodies on the line.

PROMISING

The gangly frame of Ben Healy was put under immense pressure with Aki specifically targeting him on several occasions. While the young Limerick man didn’t stop the powerful South Sea islander dead in his tracks, he never took a backward step either.

Munster's Ben Healy shows his disappointment after a derby defeat. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Munster's Ben Healy shows his disappointment after a derby defeat. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Apart from that, Healy who is deputising for the injured Joey Carbery, had a good game. He was central to Munster’s only try when he blocked down a clearance from Mack Hensen, which the ever-alert Andrew Conway dot down over the line. 

Healy will have learned a lot from this and with his cool and sophisticated manner, I don’t think it will be that long before he becomes a serious contender for full international recognition.

Opposing Healy was Jack Carty who was forced off just before halftime with what looked like a very nasty mouth injury. Carty, who is very much in Andy Farrell's plans for the Six Nations, has been in tip-top form.

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

With only two points separating the sides at the final whistle, this was a game that Munster could have easily robbed. However, when you look at some of the statistics it paints a very accurate picture of where Munster are failing time and time again and were it not for some very uncharacteristic home side errors in Munster’s 22, Connacht would have won this game by a far more convincing margin.

In order to win any game you need three things to be present and on Saturday Munster only had one, whereas Connacht, had all three.

Possession is probably the most important of these facets and with the hosts dominating their opponents, it would have taken for Munster to have had a multitude of line breaks in order for them to have won. In total, they only managed to breach Connacht’s first-up defenders twice, a very bleak reflection of their creative edge.

Determination is the second trait that teams must have and this you will find in abundance in both camps, with unquestionable physical efforts from all involved.

Territory is the final mechanism needed. The men in green governed here as well, so for Munster to have kept this game to a one penalty score differential was a great effort.

Shorn of many household names and seasoned internationals, Munster will take much from the effort of the younger generation.

Fineen Wycherley (24) who packed down next to Jean Kleyn in the second row showed why he is tipped to be a serious player in Munster for years to come.

Alex Kendellen (20) who started his first senior game for the province worked tirelessly in a back row that has never before played together and while he must look to get on the ball more often, he certainly has all the attributes to being a worth successor to Peter O’Mahony.

At scrum-half Craig Casey (22) might be considered as a senior player already however, every single minute of rugby at this level will help him become a calmer and more astute axis between the forwards and backs.

Shane Daly of Munster kicks downfield despite the tackle of Bundee Aki of Connacht. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane Daly of Munster kicks downfield despite the tackle of Bundee Aki of Connacht. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ben Healy (22), who we have already mentioned and with Shane Daly (25) and Gavin Coombes (24) also in the starting 15, the future for Munster is looking somewhat positive.

Next week Munster face yet another stern challenge in the guise of Ulster and I would expect that the team will be as strong as Johann van Graan can possibly select.

Hopefully, this game will once again escape the wretched claws of Covid and Munster will find some kind of solid foundations to build on for the new year.

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