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Academy Update | February 2020

25th February 2020 By The Editor

John Hodnett won the Man of the Match award on his PRO14 debut.

John Hodnett won the Man of the Match award on his PRO14 debut. Inpho

Elite Player Development Manager Peter Malone runs the rule over the last four weeks in the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy after another great month of progress for the province’s young players.

Following Champions Cup debuts for Ben Healy and Jack O’Sullivan last month, John Hodnett and Jake Flannery made their Guinness PRO14 debuts in February.

Hodnett produced a Man of the Match performance against Southern Kings and Flannery made his debut as a replacement away to Zebre.

Academy lock Thomas Ahern and sub-Academy out-half Jack Crowley have also played leading roles for the Ireland U20s in their 100% start to the 6 Nations.

Ireland U20s’ 39-21 victory over England…

“It was a great win for the Irish U20s and from a Munster point of view it was great to see Jack Crowley and Thomas Ahern play leading roles in a great performance.

“Jack controlled the match very well and Thomas scored two tries and ran the lineout very well so that’s all positive.”

Eoin O’Connor missing out on the U20s 6 Nations through injury…

“He put himself in the mix to be in that 6 Nations squad but, unfortunately, he picked up a knee injury. But there’s a longer term plan for Eoin, that’s why he’s in the Academy.

“His next focus is to get back paying for Young Munster and hopefully put himself in the mix for the Junior World Championship.”

John Hodnett’s Man of the Match display on his PRO14 debut against Southern Kings…

“John has had an excellent two years – with the Ireland U20s and UCC last year, and he’s kicked on again this year with UCC, Munster A in the Celtic Cup and the senior team in pre-season.

“He has put himself in the minds of the coaches and had a few very good performance for us in the recent A games against Connacht and Leinster and that solidified his opportunity.

“He played well and did exactly what he’s been doing all season and that’s getting on the ball, carrying well and making good, solid tackles and getting some good turnovers.

“It’s great for him and great for his club and his family and for the guys around him in the Academy.

“It’s very good for them to see that we’re giving some guys opportunities and when they’re getting those chances they are taking them and that’s a good sign for us.”

Jake Flannery making his PRO14 debut against Zebre…

“Looking at the bigger picture, the senior coaches are working that system pretty well where they bring guys that travel with the squad for experience.

“Josh Wycherley was on that trip too and didn’t play but Jake got the rub of the green when Shane Daly unfortunately had to miss out and Jake came into the 23.

“From the point of giving guys experience it’s very good and Jake came on and it was brilliant for him. He has worked very hard to come back from injury and played two or three games for Shannon and now he’s got his debut which is a real bonus for him.”

Munster clubs in the top two of Division 1A and 1B of the All Ireland League…

“The Munster clubs really over the last 18 months have really performed excellently. Cork Con are runaway leaders in Division 1A with Garryowen trying to track them down.

“Likewise in 1B with Highfield and Shannon after a super win at the weekend are trying to catch them as well.

“We have seen the Academy players make big contributions in what their clubs are trying to do.

“It’s a good place to be in when guys go away at the weekend and win matches and they’re all positive coming back in on Monday.

“That’s down to the work that the clubs are doing and hopefully our Academy and senior lads make a bit of a contribution to that as well, which I think they are.”

Injury latest…

“Eoin O’Connor is rehabbing a knee injury and Jack Daly is out after injuring his ankle against Connacht A.

“Seán French has had an injury for the last four or five weeks but we’d be hopeful he’ll be coming back in the next few weeks.

“Liam Coombes had a slight hamstring twinge last week which kept him out of Garryowen’s game.”

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