Murray Set For 100
25th May 2017 By The Editor
Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 Final will see Conor Murray become the tenth member of the current squad to make his 100th Munster appearance, alongside Stephen Archer, Keith Earls, Billy Holland, Ian Keatley, Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O’Donnell, Donnacha Ryan, Duncan Williams and Simon Zebo.
The last Munster player to reach such a milestone in a final was BJ Botha, in the 2015 Guinness PRO12 Final at the Kingspan Stadium. However a dominant Glasgow Warriors performance in Belfast put paid to chances of a fairy-tale outing for the South African on his landmark day.
Fast forward to this weekend and Scarlets will look to quell any such ambitions that Murray and Munster might have, but to win silverware on the occasion of his 100th Munster cap would be a fitting tribute to the man who has achieved so much on the provincial and international stage.
The embodiment indigenous Munster talent, the Patrickswell local has ticked every box of the Munster Player Development Pathway. Club, Schools, Age-Grade (provincial and national), Academy, Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions – Murray has represented them all, albeit as somewhat of a late bloomer.
Murray, much like Brian O’Driscoll in Leinster, won his Schools Senior Cup medal as a replacement, but regardless, the youngster’s potential was evident as he claimed a Senior Cup title alongside Keith Earls in the red and blue of St Munchin’s after which he entered the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.
Not until his final year of the programme did the Garryowen clubman begin to make inroads with the senior side, winning his first cap as a blood sub in Connacht in April 2010 and then seeing two minutes off the bench in Munster’s historic win over Australia at Thomond Park the following November.
It was upon graduation from the Academy in June 2011 that his rise became meteoric, making the number 9 shirt his own in Munster before shooting his way into Declan Kidney’s World Cup squad for New Zealand that same year.
A member of the Series-winning Lions side of 2013, by 2014 Murray was named Munster Player of the Year in a season where he also made his 50th Munster appearance, doing so in a Heineken Cup win over Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Starting every 6 Nations game for Ireland in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – claiming two Championship titles – the Munsterman also featured in every game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, while his performance for Ireland in their first win over the All Blacks in Chicago last year is regarded by many as the greatest ever showing by an Irish scrum half on the international stage.
Carrying that form into his provincial duties, Murray has been instrumental in Munster’s resurgence this season, his quick service, kicking game and trademark sniping keeping defences guessing – his no look pass for Simon Zebo’s try against Leicester at Thomond Park a standout moment for many.
It came as no surprise then that the Limerick native was shortlisted for European Player of the Year as well as being named Players’ Player of the Year by Rugby Players Ireland, while the 28-year-old is a frontrunner for the Lions number 9 Test jersey in New Zealand this summer.
Murray makes his 100th cap for Munster this weekend, but having signed a three year deal in January of last year, fans, teammates and the man himself can look forward to many more.
Munster v Scarlets, Guinness PRO12 Final, Saturday May 27th at the Aviva Stadium – ko 6.15pm.