’Perfect 7’ Dougall gives inspirational Munster show

It was long past his normal bedtime when Sean Dougall got to sleep in the early hours of Saturday morning. However, the disruption didn’t prevent him from producing an outstanding performance that led to him being hailed as the unsung hero of Munster’s Heineken Cup victory over Gloucester.

’Perfect 7’ Dougall gives inspirational Munster show

The 24-year-old Dougall wasn’t part of Rob Penney’s original plans for the European game – he had been chosen to play for Munster A in the B&I Cup tie (Munster won 17-6) away to English championship team Nottingham – but was added to the senior squad when Niall Ronan damaged an ankle on Friday morning. Dougall spent Friday night on the bench in Nottingham having being replaced in the A team by Barry O’Mahony, and then endured a pre dawn start in an effort to be back in Limerick come kick-off time.

But the onerous pre match preparation did little to dent Dougal’s tenacity.

After emerging as Munster’s top tackler in the game (10 completed) he was praised to the hilt by coach, captain and colleague — Rob Penney, Peter O’Mahony and Donncha O’Callaghan — for his performance in Munster’s 26-10 win at Thomond Park.

Penney described Dougall’s elevation to the team as a no-brainer: “It’s replacing like for like and making one positional change is much easier on the group than making several positional changes. Obviously it is less disruptive.

“Dougs’ has played great for us when he has been on the field and he has been chomping at the bit (and) tapping at the door (trying) to get access back into the team since the start of the year.

“We have tried to have a bit more of a settled group. Niall Ronan got the nod (originally) and has done a really good job but when he went down it was a no-brainer for us to bring Dougs in.”

A much relieved O’Mahony added his weight to the praise: “I could be here all night talking about Sean. He’s a top character and one of our hardest trainers. He’s not in the door long but he’s setting standards and he’s an awesome fella to be alongside in training and you saw the performance tonight. He didn’t get much sleep Friday night; I think he didn’t get back to the hotel until 2.

He was on a six o’clock flight and he was all over the place but I thought that was an awesome performance, and credit where credit is due. He had a tough last 36 hours, being pulled from the ‘A’ game and having to be on the bench and travel. It was tough going for him and to put in a performance like that was a credit to him.”

O’Mahony described Dougall as the perfect 7: “Yeah, he’s 100% a seven. He’s a little fighter and even in training he’s a pest to train against when you’re on the opposition. As you saw he’s a class player, a huge part of our performance.”

Donncha O’Callaghan revealed Dougall wouldn’t normally suffer from a lack of sleep such as he experienced on the return journey from Nottingham.

“He’s (normally) into bed at 9 at night but first into the gym in the morning; he’s an incredible professional, a fella who sets standards and is so hungry for it that it’s brilliant. He sets the tone in training every day and I’m glad he got a big game out of this. I can’t speak highly enough of him in terms of his work rate; he’s old school.

“He brings something different, he’s hungry for it, he wants it, he loves playing for Munster and it’s great to get a guy like that. We’ve been lucky before to get guys who do that, he’s in the mould of guys like Rua (Tipoki) and Trevor (Halstead) who brought it on in terms of training and stuff. Sean has been setting high standards non-stop.”

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