Jump to main content


Munster Mark First Match On New Pitch With ‘Exciting’ Win Over Irish

Munster Mark First Match On New Pitch With ‘Exciting’ Win Over Irish

Tries from lively winger Darren Sweetnam, Brian Scott, Dan Goggin and Mike Sherry (2) saw Munster claim a 32-28 win over London Irish in the first game on the new modified 3G pitch at Irish Independent Park in the Kearys Renault Series.


MUNSTER 32 LONDON IRISH 28, Irish Independent Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: Darren Sweetnam, Brian Scott, Dan Goggin, Mike Sherry 2; Cons: JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley; Drop: JJ Hanrahan
London Irish: Tries: Matt Williams, Oliver Hoskins, Topsy Ojo, Scott Steele; Cons: Greig Tonks, Theo Brophy Clews, Stephen Myler 2

HT: Munster 20 London Irish 14

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

The pre-season tussle saw Munster debut their new modified 3G surface in Cork, which was installed by Tralee-based company PST Sport, for the first time, and head coach Johann van Graan was able to give game-time to 31 players, including senior debutants Cronan Gleeson, Jack Daly, Alex McHenry, Liam Coombes and Mike Haley.

Reflecting on the five tries-to-four victory afterwards, which also saw stand-in captain Tommy O’Donnell successfully return from a lengthy injury lay-off, van Graan said: “That was pretty exciting, always happy with the win. Both teams came to play positive rugby, multiple changes disrupted the rhythm quite a bit but these are the games you want to try them and overall I’m happy.

“It’s very early days so we’ll take the win and go and look at some of the things we tried and start again on Monday. I think, from a squad perspective, there doesn’t seem to be any serious injuries and that’s what you want from a pre-season game.

“I thought beforehand we were worried about how the ball would bounce (on the new pitch) and what kicks would do but I thought during the game there was nothing out of the ordinary, I think nine tries in a pre-season game is just proof that this pitch is going to be fast. What we said inside that on this kind of pitch you might be 14 up or 14 down and how quickly it can change because it is so fast.”

Munster dominated the opening 10 minutes but London Irish, who are new coached by Declan Kidney and Les Kiss, defended well before hitting the hosts with a sucker-punch score. Centre Matt Williams hacked a loose ball into the 22 before showing impressive speed to race clear and score. Greig Tonks added the extras.

The province responded in excellent fashion and registered a similar try just moment later. Dan Goggin kicked a loose London Irish pass clear and Sweetnam picked up the mantle with the winger showing his footballing skills to kick well into the 22 and control the bouncing ball to score in the left corner.

With JJ Hanrahan receiving treatment, versatile half-back James Hart assumed the place-kicking duties but could not land the tough conversion at 7-5. Munster moved ahead in the 19th minute when Sweetnam and full-back Stephen Fitzgerald set up good field position after a break up the right wing, with big prop Brian Scott pouncing to score an opportunistic try at the base of a London Irish ruck.

Hanrahan saw his conversion attempt drift just wide but made no mistake with a drop goal effort on the half hour mark to move Munster 13-7 ahead. The score came after a thrilling move as Hanrahan’s cross-field kick found Sweetnam with offloads from the winger and the supporting Fitzgerald nearly carving open Irish but the Exiles were strong in defence.

Now firmly in the ascendancy, Munster posted their third try in the 34th minute as centre Goggin powered over in the left corner with Hanrahan’s excellent conversion widening the margin to 13 points. Nonetheless, London Irish hit back with an Oliver Hoskins try off a rolling maul on the stroke of half-time to close the gap to 20-14.

Van Graan made a raft of changes at the interval and although the home side lost some of their fluency as a result, replacement hooker Mike Sherry crossed from a lineout maul after another dominant spell. Ian Keatley split the posts with the conversion.

A fifth try in the final five minutes was no more than Munster deserved with Sherry credited with the score following another well-executed rolling maul. Well-taken late scores from Topsy Ojo and Scot Steele in each corner saw London Irish end the night on a high but there was no denying Munster.

Notably, seven Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players featured in the win – Sean O’Connor, Liam Coombes, Gavin Coombes, McHenry, Jack Stafford, Shane Daly and Jack Daly – and they will hope for further match minutes when the province host Exeter Chiefs, one of their Champions Cup pool rivals, in Cork next Friday (kick-off 7.30pm). Tickets are available here.

MUNSTER: Stephen Fitzgerald; Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam; JJ Hanrahan, James Hart; Jeremy Loughman, Kevin O’Byrne, Brian Scott, Fineen Wycherley, Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell (capt), Gavin Coombes.

Replacements used: Cronan Gleeson for Loughman (31 mins), Ciaran Parker for Scott (31-65), Mike Haley for Fitzgerald, Liam Coombes for Nash, Shane Daly for Scannell, Mike Sherry for O’Byrne, Billy Holland for Wycherley, Jean Kleyn for O’Shea, Sean O’Connor for O’Callaghan (all half-time), Ian Keatley for Hanrahan, Jack Stafford for Hart (both 45), Dave Kilcoyne for Gleeson, Jack Daly for O’Donnell (both 51), Calvin Nash for Sweetnam (60), Neil Cronin for Stafford (65), Wycherley for O’Connor, O’Donnell for G Coombes (both 67), Alex McHenry for Goggin, Scannell for S Daly (72).

LONDON IRISH: Greig Tonks; Topsy Ojo, Matt Williams, Fergus Mulchrone, Ollie Hassell-Collins; Theo Brophy Clews, Ben Meehan; Gordon Reid, David Porecki, Oliver Hoskins, Teofilo Paulo, Sebastian de Chaves, Josh McNally (capt), Max Northcote-Green, Matt Rogerson.

Replacements used: Scott Steele for Williams (22 mins), Sean O’Hagan for Tonks, Bryce Campbell for Hassell-Collins, Stephen Myler for Brophy Clews, Brendan McKibbin for Meehan, Reuben Knight for Ojo, Harry Elrington for Reid, Saia Fainga’a for Porecki, Petrus du Plessis for Hoskins, Barney Maddison for Paulo, Sam Twomey for de Chaves, Jack O’Sullivan for McNally, Isaac Curtis-Harris, Jake Schatz for Rogerson (all half-time), Ojo for Knight (65).

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)