MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan believes his squad has much more to offer after hailing a new generation of players in the province for their contribution to the Magners League title-winning success.
While there has been disappointment on the European stage with premature exits from both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup this season, McGahan has seen his up-and-coming players, many of whom were still on development or Academy contracts, bed into the Munster set-up and help deliver 21 victories from 24 games during the Magners League campaign.
As well as dealing with numerous injuries in his squad, Munster has seen their Ireland stars’ game time restricted by the IRFU’s player management programme and taken away on international duty, prompting McGahan to turn to youngsters such as front-rowers Mike Sherry and Stephen Archer, second row Ian Nagle and scrum-half Conor Murray to get the province through the season.
“We’re delighted but we didn’t need the victory to prove that to ourselves,” McGahan said of the impact from the younger players. “We certainly knew that they had been working hard behind the scenes and that when they were given opportunities they would be ready.
“To get through such a tough season with a small population base and dealing with the national side, it certainly is difficult, but we certainly have given ourselves the opportunity to do that. We have done that over the last two years, and we still have plenty more to come.”
McGahan praised Leinster, stressing: “I thought Leinster were absolutely terrific. To come here after winning the Heineken Cup and bring the energy and competitiveness they did showed that they are a massive side, and certainly one that we have a great amount of respect for.
“We had two weeks of preparation but more importantly we had two weeks which allowed us to recover. We took a couple of extra days last week to make sure we were refreshed.”
And with a first piece of silverware since lifting the Magners League in 2009, McGahan said the whole province would be lifted.
“It’s huge for everyone right across the board. From the playing group, the management and the organisation to the development officers and young players coming through, and more important to the supporters.
“They can walk around with a smile on their faces, knowing that we have done something very important in the context of the Magners League season.”
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