Good news isn’t something that has been closely associated with the Munster rugby team in recent weeks.
For a few hours yesterday, things looked brighter with confirmation Tomás O’Leary is to rejoin the province next season from London Irish. O’Leary (31) will see plenty of game time for at least the first two months of next season with first choice Conor Murray likely to be away with Ireland at the Rugby World Cup.
But head coach Anthony Foley hinted yesterday that he could have a greater role to play on his return to his home province.
“We have signed Tomás to create competition, to get a player in who has experience, a nous for the game and an ability to run a pack, to add quality, to add more,” said Foley of the former Ireland scrum-half.
Munster also announced yesterday Andrew Conway, Dave O’Callaghan, Johnny Holland and Eusebio Guinazu had also signed new contracts.
When captain Peter O’Mahony was asked about his future, he insisted it was a private matter and that his preference was very much to remain at Munster. On the heels of the loss to Northampton Saints of JJ Hanrahan, every effort will be made to retain the services of the outstanding back-row forward. O’Mahony’s contract is up at the end of the season.
The return of O’Leary is sure to be warmly greeted by the many Munster fans who have long since wondered why he and Peter Stringer were allowed to leave the province.
He departed Munster at the end of the 2011/12 season after making 127 appearances and scoring 57 points since making his debut in 2005.
Another Cork man with a strong hurling connection is also set to remain at Munster with Greencore Academy player Darren Sweetnam also committing his future to the province.
The former Cork senior hurler has signed a two-year contract, moving to development status for 2015/16 and a full contract for 2016/17.
The 21-year-old winger has made seven Munster ‘A’ appearances in the British and Irish Cup.
Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said: “Retaining younger talent is vital for our progression... we are in a good place as players continue to show commitment and ambition to succeed with the province.”
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