Academy Update | February 2023
15th February 2023 By The Editor
We spoke to Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Manager Ian Costello for this month’s Academy Update with a number of Munster players in action with the Ireland U20s over the past two weeks.
Brian Gleeson, Ruadhán Quinn, Evan O’Connell, Danny Sheahan and Jacob Sheahan have all featured in Ireland U20s matchday squads over the opening two games of the 6 Nations.
On the injury front, Daniel Okeke (hamstring) is in line to make his return for Shannon RFC shortly.
Edwin Edogbo (ankle) will continue to rehab for the coming three to four weeks.
Patrick Campbell has been out of action due to a knock but is expected to be available shortly.
Jack Oliver is continuing to rehab the ankle injury that saw him miss the Ireland U20s’ opening two games of the 6 Nations.
In player news, Daniel Hurley and Shay McCarthy will both train with the Academy until the end of the season.
Hurley plays his AIL rugby with Cork Constitution and is a former PBC pupil.
McCarthy is a Young Munster man and has previously played for Richmond. He lined out for the Ireland U20s last season.
Hear the latest from Costello below.
Six Nations action so far…
“It was great for Brian Gleeson to get Man of the Match in the first game. I thought Ruadhán Quinn had a quality performance both sides of the ball, 7 is a new position for him and he got through an awful lot of work in attack and defence so he was very pleased with his performance.
“The three boys have made a good impact off the bench too – Evan O’Connell, Danny Sheahan and Jacob Sheahan. I think Evan got a little bit more game-time and his quality came through.
“It’s great for us to have five lads in there with four of them underage for the U20s again next year so that’s a really good sign for things to come.
“We made some decisions this year to bring guys into the system early and that’s the beauty of the work that the Academy and Talent coaches do, we’re constantly trying to build up the information we have on players and getting to know them on and off the pitch.
“When it comes to making decision, we’re more informed and that’s based on a lot of information and data as well as the experiences of the coaches who work with the players.
“I think that cycle will hopefully continue where if we get the work done early, we can make the best decisions for bringing these guys into our system even earlier.
“Ruadhán and Evan coming straight in from school is a great example of that. Other guys like Brian, potentially we could have brought him in last year. But him playing AIL for the year and starting week in week out for Garryowen at no 8 and the amount of game-time Jacob Sheahan clocked up early in the season, that’s where the two things come together nicely where you’ve got a quality schools competition and the AIL and how important that is.
“It can take a little longer for some guys to develop and someone like Brian has come through with a bang on the back of playing 15 or 16 matches already this year.”
Sell-out Ireland U20s games at Musgrave Park…
“After the game, our players all referenced the crowd, they all referenced the atmosphere and what a difference it makes playing in Cork.
“They’ve definitely found a home for that 20s team and the lads are all speaking about the impact it makes for them on the pitch so hopefully it continues there, especially if we can sell-out games like that.”
“The Academy players send through reports every week. Regardless of the level of game they have played, they send through their own personal review of the game before they have the chance to watch it back. It’s part of their development.
“Academy players are in that development space and still learning about things like how they analyse their own performance, how they can provide themselves with feedback during a game on the move so they can affect the game rather than waiting until the Monday morning and looking at the video with a coach.
“We’re trying to equip them with the tools to do that themselves, which is really important. Before they ever watch a video, they have to send in just a really brief message or a voice note with just a sense of how they got on across the key parts of the game.
“That will always be linked to the focus that they had going into the game. One of the things we do regularly with players is they have to write down what their focus is going into a game. It’s good practice for setting goals for themselves.
“After watching the video they will come to the coach with points they have as well as the coach having points so it’s very much co-operative, co-managed process and that’s a big part of developing those skills as they hopefully move up to the pro game.”
Daniel Hurley & Shay McCarthy training with the Academy …
“Shay McCarthy hasn’t come through the system in a traditional way through our underage teams. He burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with Young Munster so we think it’s really important to have a look at him in our environment. He wasn’t an automatic choice for an Academy contract so we’ve devised an alternative route which is really important for us.
“Daniel Hurley did come through the traditional route but a big injury ruled him for about a year. With the talent pool that we have, it’s different routes for different players so this gives us a real flexible option that gives the lads a real chance to come in over five months and we can benchmark them training day in, day out with the senior squad.”