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Academy Update | January 2023

17th January 2023 By The Editor

Academy player Patrick Campbell celebrates scoring against Leinster.

Academy player Patrick Campbell celebrates scoring against Leinster. Inpho

It’s been a hive of activity in the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy over December and January with players in action for underage Ireland sides, the Munster senior team and their clubs.

Patrick Campbell and Cian Hurley have added to their tally of senior caps for Munster with Campbell also touching down against Leinster at Thomond Park on St Stephen’s Day.

We spoke to Academy Manager Ian Costello for the latest news on our young players.

Munster players in camp with Ireland underage sides…

“Getting selected for national camp is massive for young guys and getting exposure to different environments and different coaches. They can benchmark themselves nationally and we can see them playing against the best in the country.

“It’s really good for their development to be challenged like that, our experience tells us that the lads who respond well to that challenge are the guys that kick on.

“There were 11 Munster players in the Ireland U18 Schools squad and six Munster players in the Ireland U18s Clubs & Schools team squad with the teams playing in an internal game.

“It’s great to have that many guys involved on the back of the Munster U18 Schools winning the Interprovincial title.

“Dylan Hicks, who played for the Munster U18 Clubs team in the summer and is a Bantry Bay clubman, got capped by the Ireland U18 Schools and that would be quite rare. He also helped Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí to their historic win over Glenstal Abbey in the first round of the Pinergy Munster Schools Boys Senior Cup last week.

“To have so many players involved shows the quality work being done at our clubs and schools. We also made a significant investment over the summer with a three-week residential talent camp so we’re just starting to reap the rewards of that long-term development work as well.

“It was great to have Interpro success earlier this year with the Munster U19s very close to winning an Interpro as well but it’s really now about the long-term development, how many young players get to experience playing an international game which can be a massive springboard for their development.

“Jake O’Riordan, Ben O’Connor, Sean Edogbo and Sean Condon have been with the Ireland U19s and there are a number of Munster players with the Ireland U20s who are eligible for the Ireland U19s.

“We’ve a decent representation at Ireland U20s level – Danny Sheahan, Jacob Sheahan, Evan O’Connell, Brian Gleeson, Ruadhan Quinn, Jack Oliver, Ihechi Oji and Josh Costello. Brian Gleeson, Danny Sheahan and Jacob Sheahan are all still eligible for under 19s. Stephen Kiely was originally in the squad but he got injured, he’s under 19 as well. The final Ireland U20 squad will be named later this week. Josh Costello is out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, Jack Oliver has an ankle injury and Andrew O’Mahony has a shoulder injury.”

Academy staff working with Ireland underage sides…

“Mark Butler is the Head Coach of the U19s and Brendan O’Connor is the assistant coach of the U18 Schools. Brandon Shanahan, our analyst, has gone in with the U18 Schools as well and our athletic development coach James O’Leary is involved with the U18 Clubs and Schools team. It’s great for the players but we’re big into our staff developing because with highly passionate staff that are improving all the time, ultimately it will be the players that benefit. That would be a big ethos we have with players and staff developing all the time.”

Matt Brown, Brendan O’Connor & Tommy O’Donnell joining the Academy staff this season…

“Matt has come in as the Pathway coach and he’s already made a real dent into the schools. He works across our NTS [National Talent Squad] but his main focus is with his allocated schools. Our approach is around working with individuals but targeting the environment as well. The role is only six months old and that will bear fruit as time goes on.

“Brendan has come in as our third EPDO [Elite Player Development Officer] and he works across the whole province, specialising in forwards. He’s brought a wealth of experience from working in the domestic game for so long, he’s really taken to his role and he’s added a huge amount to the department.

“Tommy is the same in terms of his experience as a player, he’s translating that into his coaching. You don’t play over 190 games for Munster unless you have a huge amount of character and the lads are really enjoying and embracing being coached by him. He’s getting better by the day and that’s great to see.”

Latest on the injury front…

“Daniel Okeke and Edwin Edogbo are both still out.

“Tony Butler returned last week and played with Garryowen. He has taken the opportunity while out injured to really apply himself and come back much  stronger and more powerful. That’s really what we want when a player is out injured, to focus on something else.

“Mark Donnelly is back from injury too and he played for Garryowen last week as well and got through a full 80 minutes on both sides of the scrum.”

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