Garryowen captain Conan Doyle is a fan of floodlit fixtures and is relishing tonight’s AIB League Division 1A opener against local rivals Shannon under the Dooradoyle floodlights (kick-off 7.30pm).
“It’s something that we are not unfamiliar with. We are looking forward to it,” said Conan Doyle, who has taken over from Paul Neville as captain of the Light Blues.
“I think it is a great spectacle to have the game under lights. Going forward, I feel more games should be on a Friday night.
“Games between Garryowen and Shannon no matter what the competition is, they are always a great occasion.
“To start off the new Division 1A, I think it is a great way to begin it for us.”
Garryowen and Shannon met in the first of three floodlit games to take place across the entire Division One campaign last season, and it could not have got any closer as the Limerick rivals played out a 17-all draw at Thomond Park.
Doyle recalls that game as a tough encounter.
“Last year’s first game against Shannon in the league was a floodlit game at Thomond Park, so we are used to the lights,” he recalled.
“I think we traded scores throughout the game. The lead went back and forth until the end. I remember the last few minutes Shannon getting a penalty and their out-half (Tadhg Bennett) took it well.
“It was a very tight game, but an enjoyable one as well.”
And Doyle, who featured for Munster against the Ospreys last season, says that last year’s floodlit encounter at Thomond greatly added to the atmosphere and helped give a huge boost to both sets of players.
“It’s something different, it always brings something different to the game playing it under lights. I don’t think that takes away from it, it just improves the standard of the game really.”
And the 23-year-old is in agreement that floodlit fixtures help to add to the promotion of the AIB League, and the club game in general.
“I think having Munster games on the same weekend, sometimes it is difficult to get the crowds out. I’m sure some people use their Saturday afternoons to be with their families.
“Certainly on a Friday night after work, games draw the crowds. As I said, it’s something different and the fact that it is under lights will bring a good crowd tonight.”
Reflecting on the 2008/09 season and how his side can build on it for this year, Doyle explains that his side are hoping to atone for last year’s semi-final disappointment.
“We finished the season strongly. We had an unfortunate run-out in the semi-final of the league. Leading into that, we were going very strong.
“It’s just about going one step better this year and making the final. When you get there anything can happen.
“But we are only thinking about starting the season well and getting into the top-three at the end of the year.”
Every new season brings a change of personnel for every club, and Garryowen are no different with some new recruits for this year.
“We have Ian Hanly who has signed for us following a year in France. Alan Gaughan has come in from Buccaneers,” Doyle said.
“Both of them have brought a lot of pace to the back-line, and added to the players that we have there already.
“I think our team has built well from the start of the year and we are very confident going forward.”
Both Doyle and his Shannon counterpart Mossie Lawlor have donned the red of Munster in the recent past.
Doyle says that he is not thinking about a return to action with his native province at the moment.
“I’ll see how things go really. At the moment I’m just thinking about studying in college and I’m not really thinking about that.
“If the opportunity came up, I’d surely look forward to it.”
Ahead of tonight’s game, the centre-cum-out-half says that there is not too much to report in terms of injury worries, although new signing Gaughan and regular scrum half Gerry Hurley are definitely unavailable.
“Alan and Gerry are two very important players for the team, but both have been ruled out of contention.
“We knew this for a while that they wouldn’t be available, but we will deal with that.
“Conor Murray, the Ireland Under-20 international, is in for Gerry Hurley, so we shouldn’t have any problems from that point of view.”