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‘Below Par’ Munsters Maintain Winning Run

‘Below Par’ Munsters Maintain Winning Run

Young Munster director of rugby Mike Prendergast admitted that his side’s performance in beating Blackrock College 13-11 was ‘below par’, yet there is no denying the importance of the win as it keeps them well in the hunt for a top-three finish.

It was by no means the prettiest display from either side but it did prove that a winning mentality has been built up by Young Munster from their recent run of good performances.

Over the past four weeks, Young Munster have shown that they can compete with the top teams in Ulster Bank League Division 1A, beating table toppers Old Belvedere and second-placed Cork Constitution and coming close to victory against third-placed St. Mary’s College.

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Speaking after Saturday’s match at Stradbrook, Munsters’ director of rugby Mike Prendergast said: “I don’t think the table suggests much in this league, especially from one to six because there isn’t much between the teams.

“We were below par today from our previous few weeks. After Christmas we showed that we have belief in ourselves by running St. Mary’s so close and losing by a drop goal in injury-time.

“I still say that day was our best performance and I think when you get a performance like that it galvanises the team a lot and luckily enough we kicked on after that.”

The Cookies’ confidence showed early on against Blackrock. They took a 10-3 lead through a penalty from scrum half Alan Kingsley, which was followed up by a try from centre Matthew Costelloe who stole in on a nice line break to dot down.

But Blackrock out-half Darragh Fitzpatrick kept his side in the hunt by scoring a penalty in the 32nd minute, before centre Rob Keogh touched down at the start of the second half to give the hosts a narrow lead.

Kingsley, whose superb place-kicking has been key to Munsters’ recent surge in the table, put in a solid performance once again, notching a long- ange penalty in the 54th minute which was enough to seal the win for his side.

Indeed, Munsters had plenty of opportunities to close the game out early in the second half yet they were let down by some poor discipline and hampered by a determined Blackrock defence.

“From a personal point of view, I was a little bit disappointed with our execution today. But Blackrock stuck with it and it went down to the wire,” added Prendergast.

“It was kind of old school rugby but we’ve been in those type of games and come out the other end against Shannon and St. Mary’s.”

Admittedly, the four weeks of back-to-back rugby has taken a toll on teams and tiredness was a factor in both sides’ rugby towards the end of Saturday’s match.

“After four weeks of games on the trot I could see guys were starting to tire on both sides, but I think our three lads from the bench came on and added a bit of energy,” insisted Prendergast.

“We have one more game next week against Shannon and then we have a break. That’s a local derby, there’s going to be nothing between us and it’s a huge game. Hopefully a good crowd will turn up to Tom Clifford Park.”

Commenting afterwards to IrishRugby.ie, Blackrock head coach Andy Wood felt that his side showed some passages of good play, while he also commended Young Munster for a solid defensive effort.

“Young Munster are a hell of a hard team to break down. We stressed that we needed patience, we showed patience and got a couple of opportunities but it wasn’t enough. They’re just so hard to break down,” admitted Wood.

“I think we needed a win today to get a buffer and even to push up the table and put some pressure on the teams above us.

“There’s still three games left – three massive games starting with St. Mary’s next week – so we’ve just got to keep fighting.

“There’s a hell of a good fighting spirit in this squad and you can see their pain in defeat because they’ve given it everything.”

Blackrock will need to keep their fighting spirit alive if they are to avoid a tussle with Garryowen at the bottom of the table. They have will have to recapture their best form as three very tough matches lie ahead, against St. Mary’s, Shannon and defending champions Cork Constitution.

Related Links –

Young Munster Pass Blackrock Test

Ulster Bank League Division 1A Table