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Quad Tear Sidelines Downey

Quad Tear Sidelines Downey

The Munster squad returned to training today in Cork following their pre-season win over Gloucester. They were without the services of head coach Rob Penney and captain Peter O’Mahony as they make their way to Belfast for the RaboDirect PRO12 launch.

There was the addition of a familiar face at Munster’s squad session on Leeside with their former forwards coach Laurie Fisher, who now works with the Brumbies in Australia, in attendance.

Fisher is in Cork for the week and is completing a three-week tour during which he has visited Harlequins, London Irish and now Munster. He will also observe the province’s second SEAT Series pre-season fixture against London Irish on Friday.

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Winger Andrew Conway, a try-scoring debutant in the 28-17 victory over Gloucester, was replaced after 25 minutes with a dead leg on Saturday but has raised no further concern and is back in full training.

Rob Penney was pleased with the impact made by Conway and a number of other players – Ian Keatley and Casey Laulala in particular – over the course of Saturday’s rain-hit encounter in Limerick.

“We knew last year that Keats (Ian Keatley) had a lot of potential and so we’re very pleased with him and JJ (Hanrahan), two young 10s with big shoes to fill,” said Penney after the Gloucester game.

“They don’t want to be wallowing in the shadows. They want to step out in the sunlight. Conditions like today are a nightmare for nines and 10s and they all contributed well.

“I was very happy with him (Laulala). He had a terrific second half to our campaign last year and he has just taken it up another notch. I suspect this was as good as we could have expected.

“It was our first time dealing with the new scrum laws. It’s hard to gauge just yet because we’re still feeling our way but I thought the delivery of the ball, especially in the first half, was superb and on the back of that our attack at times I thought was pretty classy.”

The New Zealander added: “I think we’re in a reasonable position for numbers and quality. The key is to develop depth across the park and it was lovely to be able to give an opportunity to guys from the club environment in Munster like Mikey Kelleher, Willie Ryan, Danny Kenny, Niall Kenneally, Paddy Ryan that we want to have a look at. 

“There are going to be some very tough decisions as the season unfolds. There were a number of guys who weren’t even considered for today’s game who have come back into the frame.

“Next week (against London Irish) we will be refining the group for the league games coming up against Edinburgh, Zebre and Treviso.”

It has not been all good news for Munster however, as big centre James Downey has joined their injury list having torn his quad in training. The province say the recent Ireland debutant has been ‘ruled out for the next few weeks’.

Downey joins fellow backs Felix Jones (shoulder), Luke O’Dea (wrist) and Keith Earls (shoulder) on the rehab list.

Meanwhile, Munster’s trio of 2013 Lions – Conor Murray, Paul O’Connell and Simon Zebo – are continuing with their own pre-season training programme.

Penney’s charges play London Irish next Friday night at Musgrave Park (kick-off 7pm) in the final game of the SEAT Series. Tickets are available to buy online here or by calling Ticketmaster on 0818 719300.

Adult terrace tickets are available from €;12. Tickets are also on sale from the Munster ticket offices in Musgrave Park and Thomond Park.