For a coach still only weeks into his Munster tenure, Graham Rowntree’s affinity with his new surroundings is clear and obvious. Yet the forwards coach also knows that while his connection to the province and the players he works with has been immediate, the task of getting it and them to where they need to be will require patience and a lot more time.
Not for the first time in this Munster intermediate hurling club championship has the resolve and character of Fr O’Neill’s been tested. This provincial final victory in Fraher Field, Dungarvan was built on a fierce work-rate and will-to-win, just like they showed in their extra-time victory over Blackrock earlier this month.
St Thomas have won all three county finals they have played in — having only made it to their first decider in 2012 — and they will go into a repeat of last year’s Galway SHC showdown against Liam Mellows as favourites in two weeks’time to retain the title for the first time.
A combination of Ryan Baird's 21st-minute red card and a luckless spate of injuries left the Ireland Under-20s exposed down the final stretch as Australia ruthlessly took advantage to claim a 45-17 bonus point win in Santa Fe.
Captain Charlie Ryan praised the collective efforts of his Ireland Under-20 side as they repeated their Six Nations heroics with a brilliant 42-26 bonus point win over England on the opening day of the World Rugby U-20 Championship in Santa Fe.
Peter O’Mahony is certain not only that Munster are going to need their best performance of the season on Saturday but also that the current turmoil behind the scenes will have no bearing on what his team produces in the Guinness PRO14 semi-final at Leinster.
When you are idle in a hotel room in Johannesburg, the pre-match statistics booklet for the Heineken Cup final offers welcome respite from the boredom. Where’s the oul paddies out here when you need one for a chat? Which is why a mass of statistics has become my coffee buddy for part of the week.
In times of turmoil, and there has been plenty of that at Munster in recent seasons, the onus falls on the playing squad’s leadership group to pull the province through troubled waters, and it will be no different this time as the unexpected search for new coaches begins.
So, they meet again. Two years on from a semi-final encounter in Dublin that has proven significant for both sides, Munster and Saracens will be reunited at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena tomorrow for another Heineken Champions Cup knockout tussle.