Player development the priority for Munster A, says Mick O’Driscoll

Munster’s participation in the British and Irish Cup is as much about player development as a desire to add silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet, according to coach Mick O’Driscoll.

Player development the priority for Munster A, says Mick O’Driscoll

Having lost the opening encounter of the campaign away to London Scottish, Munster A produced a dogged display in Kinsale on Friday night to get a much-needed win against English side Yorkshire Carnegie. O’Driscoll was pleased, given Yorkshire’s lofty position in the English Championship.

“They’re a quality side, second in the Championship in England, they have a much bigger squad and we have to be pleased to come away with the win. It wasn’t perfect but the weather conditions were a big factor. We managed relatively well in the first half. Rory [Scannell] put us in some good positions when we had the wind at our backs.

“We finished off two good scores with a lot of good ball carrying and some serious intensity, so, for us overall, we are relatively happy. Clearly, it was a difficult second half into the wind, but we managed it quite well.”

O’Driscoll admitted it was a tough task for the Irish provinces to find the right balance between experience and youthful potential in team selection.

“In this instance, it was all about getting game time for some lads that needed it,” he said. “You have guys on the fringes of the senior set-up who are getting good quality game time and then there are the young players, who also need experiences such as this.

“We had four or five lads that would not have been involved were our [European Champions Cup] game against Stade Francais not been postponed. Having those guys involved probably gave us a little boost, but also for those guys who have been sitting on the bench for the last few weeks, it was important to get a run.

“Then we had the likes of Sean McCarthy [second row] playing and bringing Conor Oliver [flanker] off the bench. Conor came from Leinster at the start of this season having been on the Irish under 20 squad, he is an out and out seven, I thought he did very well, as did Sean Doyle [who started], another out and out seven. Jack O’Donoghue is playing very well for us as a seven but we are conscious that we do need more cover.”

Back in the hunt, Munster still face tough days ahead according to O’Driscoll. “We have Ospreys Select at home next, so obviously we need to win that game, and if we do win, then we’ll be right back in it. I can’t imagine that two teams will necessarily come out of the group so ultimately we will have to look at winning it to be assured of a place in the knock out stages.”

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