After their recent friendly win over Ulster Ravens, Girvan Dempsey’s Leinster ‘A’ squad have their sights firmly focused on the British & Irish Cup quarter-final against Munster ‘A’ on Friday night.
Leinster ‘A’ will play in the British & Irish Cup knockout stages against Munster ‘A’ for the third successive year.
By the time the match kicks off, it will have been 77 days since the Leinster ‘A’ side’s previous competitive game – against Ealing Trailfinders in the pool stages of the British & Irish Cup.
With British & Irish Cup games coming on the same weekends as Heineken Cup matches, a balance has to be struck in the build-up.
Certain players that would normally be involved with the ‘A’ team may be working with the province’s senior side, whether it is with a view to taking a place on the bench or providing opposition in training.
Leinster Academy manager Girvan Dempsey already has a group of players in mind that should be involved come Friday evening, however.
“We have a core group of players that we expect to be involved in that quarter-final against Munster,” he said.
“As a group they won’t get together until the match week itself because some of them will be involved with the seniors, playing or providing opposition, or some of them will be playing club rugby.”
Ahead of the match it will be a matter of taking what time is available and ‘having a meeting here or there to go through some calls or video footage or whatever we can try and squeeze in to the senior schedule’.
For Dempsey, a man who collected 198 appearances for Leinster and 81 Ireland caps during his playing career, contests against Munster hold the same excitement and sense of rivalry whether the game is played at the RDS, Thomond Park or Donnybrook.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve had great rivalries with Munster over the years. Obviously the (British & Irish Cup) semi-final two years ago in the RDS and we went down to Dooradoyle last year and played really well in the semi-final.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd. If we can drum up support and get them in to Donnybrook on Friday night I think it would be fantastic.”
Dempsey is full of praise for the young players in the senior squad and the Academy players that stepped up during the international windows this season, with many set to feature for Leinster ‘A’ on Friday night.
During the November Series and Six Nations, Sam Coghlan Murray featured regularly on the wing with Jack Conan picking up his first senior cap and first try against Cardiff.
“If you look at the team and the way they’ve tried to play rugby, it’s exciting, and to see the guys step up through the international windows in November and during the Six Nations, they’ve gone well in the PRO12 and they’ve shown the form they showed in the ‘A’ matches has stood them in good stead when they’ve stepped up to the seniors.
“We’d hope to get a good crowd in to Donnybrook and get the crowd behind us and continue on the good vein of form.”
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