Murphy would love to be involved in Munster’s Heineken Cup fixtures with Castres and Sale in the next fortnight, but though he’s unlikely to figure with the province it could still a fruitful fortnight for him.
After demolishing Blackrock 49-0 at Temple Hill on Saturday with their biggest win of the season, the Temple Hill outfit clawed their way one point closer to their biggest rivals, Shannon and Garryowen, and now they play both in quick succession.
With an immediate Munster New Year’s wish unlikely to come true for Murphy, he will focus on a return trip to Thomond Park next week, one month after Constitution knocked Shannon out of the All Ireland Cup.
If Declan Kidney changes his mind or either of the Munster scrum halves, Peter Stringer and Tomas O’Leary, get injured, Murphy will automatically step up. Con coach Brian Walsh would be the first to congratulate him, but he would probably prefer to have the player around for these big ties. Walsh heaped praise on Murphy for his recent contribution to Constitution’s good fortunes: “He has been playing brilliantly; he’s is a quality player and gives us a lot of options in attack.”
Murphy caused major problems for Blackrock, but Walsh was conscious that it wasn’t a one man show. “With Dara Lyons alongside Frank we have a very good half back partnership and they work exceptionally well with Frank Cogan. I think these three did a lot of damage.”
Walsh correctly hastened to add that the front five put huge pressure on the visitors, who were never allowed to get into their stride. Blackrock, frustrated by the heavy challenge from the Constitution pack and limited by their own handling errors, had caved in by half-time.
In contrast to the plethora of mistakes on the visitors’ side, Constitution’s handling and their ability to get the ball away to support runners out of the tackle were a revelation. The creativity, particularly from centre Tom Gleeson and opportunism of speedy winger Cronan Healy were also bright features of a top class performance.
There were hardly any redeeming features to the Blackrock performance, save perhaps for the class rearguard display from Eady Manawaiti and an always-aggressive performance by Gary Brown in the centre.
Walsh, while delighted with the result and the performance, recognised that the win must be put into perspective and that bigger hurdles lie ahead.
At this halfway stage of the campaign, the gap between top and bottom clubs is alarmingly big. One could almost take it as read that no more than five teams will battle it out for the top four places. Constitution will surely be one of them, particularly if they can achieve one win over the top teams in this up-coming period.
For now they will bask in the limited glory of this training-ground romp, which yielded seven tries and a bonus point.
They led Blackrock 23-0 at the break with two tries from Healy, one from Brendan Cuttriss and two penalties and a conversion from Lyons.
Gleeson was rewarded with a try of his own 40 seconds into the second half and Cogan flew in at the corner six minutes later, with both scores converted by Lyons. Richard Lane and Tom Ryan completed the rout with tries and Lyons added one conversion.
: C. O’Sullivan, R. Lane, T. Gleeson, A. O’Brien, C. Healy, D. Lyons, F. Murphy, T. Ryan, D. Murray, M. Ross, J. Moloney, S. O’Connor, M. O’Connell, F. Cogan, B. Cuttriss. Replacements: S. Cotterall for O’Connor (14, injured), E. Leamy for Molney (50, injured), J. Danaher for Ross 955), A. Ryan for Murphy (60), L. Hill for Cogan (65).
: A. Harry, F. Carr, G. Brown, P. Graham, P. Caldwell, P. O’Toole, P. Byrne, C. Murphy, A. McSweeney, G. Fitzgerald, M. Legg, O. Cullen, D. Dillon, E. Manawaiti, D. Laffan. Replacements: D. Gavin for Manawaiti, S. Madigan for McSweeney (both 50), R. Molloy for Byrne (53), S. Byrne for Murphy (67).
: M. Kilgore (Ulster).