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Mixed Fortunes For Munster's Internationals
6 June 2004, 3:23 pm
At the moment there are 18 Munster players on international duty between the Ireland senior and Under 21 side a and they enjoyed mixed fortune at the weekend in different parts of the world.
At the moment there are 18 Munster players on international duty between the Ireland senior and Under 21 side a and they enjoyed mixed fortune at the weekend in different parts of the world.

There are eight Munster players in Scotland right now with the Under 21 World Championship squad and seven of those were involved on Friday night in Ireland's opening win over Tonga.

In fact Munster players played a significant role with wing Richard Lane (UCC) scoring two tries in that 43-5 victory while Cork Constitution flanker Brendan O'Connor was named Man of the Match following a storming performance against the ultra physical South Sea Islanders.

Besides O'Connor, there were three other Cork Constitution players in the starting XV with Tomas O'Leary at scrum-half, Denis Fogarty - younger brother of former Munster player John - in the middle of the front row and Shane O'Connor in the second row.

Dolphin's Andrew Finn manned the number 15 berth while UL Bohemians centre Breffni O'Donnell came on as a econd half replacement. The Munster connection with the U21s runs into the management whose assistant coach is former Munster/Shannon great Pat Murray and the coach is Mark McDermott who also played for Shannon and Munster.

Next up for the Irish side is a game against Argentina on Tuesady in Dumbreck (5pm).

Doubtless the Munster U21s will be in a much better frame of mind than their national colleagues. In Bloemfontein on Saturday an Irish side that started with seven Munster players were beaten 31-17 by South Africa. Peter Stringer and Ronan O'Gara were the half-backs, John Hayes was in the front row with Paul O'Connell in the second while David Waalce and Anthony Foley started in the back-row.

All things told it wasa diappointing afternoon with victory going where it was deserved but theere was enough on offer to suggest that The Irish can tie the series ne3xt weekend. The Munster players enjoyed mixed performances but then agains with the exception of Brian O'Driscoll the same could be said of all the Irish players.

'Gara kicked some wonderful points; Hayes coped well with Os du Randt, and if O'Connell was a little quieter than usual he will also be furious that hooker Shane Byrne missed him totally with the line-out throw that led to the second Bakkies Botha try.

David Wallace, back on the international scene after a long absence will be better for this outing while Anthony Foley, one knock-on excepted, was his usual reliable self, his 26th minute last ditch defensive tackle - aided by Stringer - on Botha preventing a Botha try.

For these Munster players - like the rest of their international colleagues - it has been a long season and the challenge facing them and coach Eddie O'Sullivan now is to re-charge the batteries sufficently for one last big effort next week in Cape Town.

To their credit they ended last Saturday's game peppering the Sprinbboks line and they showed enough in the course of the game that if fatigue doesn't become a factor they can square the series next week-end.

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