Five days after becoming head coach at Young Munster, former Cork Constitution, Munster, Bristol and Ireland wing-forward David Corkery found himself exactly where he wanted to be at Tom Clifford Park on Saturday.
The 27 times capped Cork man has always revelled being in the heat of battle and as his new team withstood fierce late pressure from Old Belvedere to emerge two point winners of this enjoyable All-Ireland League tie.
And Corkery was as thrilled as any Young Munster diehard in the aftermath.
“My aim is to help make this place a fortress once again”, said Corkery. “I have never come and played here without leaving sore and that’s the way it should be. I only had a minor input on Saturday. It was down to John Staunton and also Ian Keatley and Conor McPhillips who have been helping with the backs and it certainly was a fantastic start for me.”
Corkery looked on in admiration as the home side ran in three fine tries by James O’Connor, Dan Goggin and Michael Vaughan, their total completed by a penalty and conversion from Gearoid Lyons.
He also admired the manner in which they displayed the type of commitment he himself was renowned for as they refused to allow the concession of a penalty try that narrowed the gap to two points after 63 minutes to derail their challenge.
It was a well merited win given that Belvedere, who also had a try by Danny Riordan and two penalties and a conversion by Willie Staunton, led the table going into the weekend.
Ironically, Staunton was a key man at out-half for Munsters for the past few years and is also a brother of former coach John.
“Obviously I’m only a blow-in for now,” acknowledged Corkery. “I’m no longer involved with Con for a variety of reasons — and guess who we meet here next week. It’s Con, of course. Will it be a little embarrassing for me after all my years there? Not on your life.
“I’m with Munsters now. Every club I’ve been associated with, I’ve always worn their shirt with pride and this will be no different.”
And it looks, too, like he will have plenty of talent to work with over the season. Three-quarters Diarmuid McCarthy and Dan Goggin, out-half Gearoid Lyons and forwards Diamuid Dee and Ben Kilkenny (a nephew of former Ireland captain Keith Wood) are a youthful quintet of considerable potential, South African scrum-half Abrie Grisel is a real will-‘o-the wisp and forwards like Ger Slattery and the second-row Alan Kennedy are already well established AIL practitioners.
M Vaughan; D McCarthy, M Doyle, D Goggin, J O’Connor; G Lyons, A Griesel; D Begley, G Slattery, E Ryan, A Kennedy, S Duggan, A Ross, D Dee, B Kilkenny.
S Fenton, P Allen, Y Browne, G Fitzgerald, P Downes.
D Riordan; S McDonald, J Kennedy, P Robb, R O’Loughlin; W Staunton, A Sheehan; A Howard, E Rossiter, D Ryan, C Owende, J Kelly, K O’Gorman, M Oguya, J Slattery.
C O’Flynn, J McWilliams-Gray, K Miller, A Wynne, C Noonan.
G Conway (IRFU).