Munster Academy manager Peter Malone is delighted to see his players getting a chance to impress at British and Irish Cup level and he has been impressed with how they have responded to the challenge.
Victory over Plymouth Albion in their latest B&I Cup outing ensured defending champions Munster A top Pool 7 and will feature in the quarter-finals.
Academy players such as Corey Hircock, Ronan O’Mahony, Cian Bohane and Duncan Casey have featured prominently for the A side and Malone is pleased that Munster have been able to achieve success while giving young players valuable experience.
“It’s great to be still involved and it’s been so good for the academy guys with a number of them getting game-time this year,” he said.
“It’s a huge experience for these guys to play these Championship sides away. We don’t know who we’re playing against yet (in the quarter-finals) with games called off but the probability is that we will be away if results go as we expect.
“There are a lot of good teams left in the competition like Newcastle, Bedford and Cornish Pirates and you just can’t beat the experience of playing teams like that.
“It’s a great learning curve for our young players and we saw that most recently when Brian Haugh and Darren Sweetnam made their A debuts against Plymouth in Temple Hill, it was great to see them making the step up."
Malone will be bringing a development squad to Barcelona on February 9 to take on a Barcelona club selection before the Academy take on a Russian select side in April as they did last year.
The news is predominantly positive on the injury front for the Academy with a number of players in line to return to action.
Following on from Hircock’s successful return against Plymouth, fellow flyer Cian Bohane is expected to line out for his club Dolphin this weekend after overcoming his knee injury.
Also expected to return to Ulster Bank action this weekend is Garryowen flanker Shane Buckley who has been sidelined since going over on his ankle against Rotherham.
No such luck however for UL Bohemians man Darren Moroney who re-tore his hamstring and is looking at two to three months of rehabilitation.