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Greencore Munster Academy Update

29th May 2014 By Munster Rugby

Catching up with Munster Academy Manager Peter Malone on new Academy recruits, promotion of Academy graduates to Development contracts and the upcoming IRB Junior World Championship (JWC).

Catching up with Munster Academy Manager Peter Malone on new Academy recruits, promotion of Academy graduates to Development contracts and the upcoming IRB Junior World Championship (JWC).

With Academy players currently on four weeks holidays, returning players will welcome seven new recruits to the Greencore Munster Academy towards the end of June. Peter tells us a little about each player, where they impressed and his hopes for them in the future.

Max Abbot – Hooker; Presentation Brothers College Cork / Cork Constitution

“With no hooker in the Academy presently, Max was always a strong candidate for recruitment. ""The starting hooker for the whole of this year’s U20 6 Nations, he’s also heading to the IRB Junior World Championships in New Zealand.

He’s a good prospect, excellent thrower and very good functional hooker. We’ve got big hopes he’ll push through and challenge to be a professional player.”

Stephen Fitzgerald – Full back, Árdscoil Rís, Limerick

“This young player did really well in the Senior Cup for Ardscoil Rís and both Munster and Ireland U19s. ""Great performances in the last six months have seen him become the only player to come through the school system in joining the Academy this year.

That’s testament to how well he’s played but it will be a big step up. The next challenge for him will be to adapt to a professional programme.”

Ryan Foley – Scrum half; Christian Brothers College, Cork / Cork Constitution

“Ryan’s done extremely well for Munster 20s and Cork Con’s 20s & senior teams. ""In fact his club performances meant he managed to force his way late into the Irish squad for the JWC.

"Such determination was impressive and he’s got serious potential.”

Jamie Glynn – Scrum half; Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare / UCD

“In term of his rugby, Jamie was a late developer. A Limerick lad, he went to school in Clongowes Wood College ""and has played senior rugby for the last four years with UCD, certainly impressing this year for the college and Irish Universities.

A small bit older than Ryan Foley and Jack Cullen, but we feel that bit of maturity might help Jamie. He wants to give professional rugby a go and this is a good avenue for him.”

Dan Goggin – Centre; St Munchins College, Limerick / Young Munster

“Dan has the physicality and footballing ability for the position he’s in. With four centres"" in the senior squad at the moment we need to have more centres coming through from the Academy, having already produced a number of back threes, second rows and back rows in recent years.

We have a lot of hope for Dan and with the right attitude and continual progress on the programme he’s on, he should push through to the senior squad.”

Darragh Moloney – Second Row; Christian Brothers College, Cork / Cork Constitution

“Of late he’s suffered a bit though injury but still managed to get himself on to the Irish JWC ""squad and I’m sure he’ll have a great campaign. I’d have a massive respect for Darragh’s work rate, and it’s that work rate which has secured him a place in the Academy.”

Brian Scott – Prop; Presentation Brothers College, Cork / Dolphin RFC

“Scotty is another late developer in his rugby career, entering the Academy after two years at ""sub-academy level and lining out for the Irish U20s last year. He’s a big man to have at prop and I’ve been really impressed with his work rate this year.

Brian came back fit and strong, putting in two really impressive B&I Cup performances for Munster A away to Plymouth and in the return fixture in Waterford. Those games brought him on a long way as a player.”

The Academy manager explained the thinking behind the recruitment of two scrum halves;

“Currently there are only three scrum halves contracted to the senior squad, which is not a lot, certainly for next season’s European Champions Cup and B&I weekends. With both games on the same weekend we will need one more scrum half to complete both teams. Also, with Jack Cullen eligible for the Irish U20s again next season there’s a good chance he’ll be away for parts of the season.

“It’s really to ensure that we have enough players in that position to field professional rugby teams, and also for Jamie, Ryan and Jack to push each other on to obtain that fourth spot in the next two years.

Peter went on to acknowledge outgoing Academy player Darren O’Shea, who is moving abroad to further his rugby career;

“Delighted for Darren to pick up a playing opportunity for Worcester Warriors. He had a big development year this past season and certainly played well for the Munster A team.”

With selection for the Senior squad the ultimate goal for all Academy members, Peter was delighted two graduates have made the progression for the upcoming season;

“Great reward for the Academy. Johnny Holland has been with the seniors all season anyway, doing well and now finds himself as the third choice out half on the senior team. Shane Buckley was another one of the players who excelled for the A team, and having won Academy Player of the Year this season, it’s a well-deserved promotion for him.”

With Ireland opening their Pool B Junior World Championship (JWC) campaign on Monday against France, Peter tells us how Munster representation in the JWC will benefit the Academy going forward;

“It gives our players exposure to the top level of rugby in the world at that age grade. They get to experience a different culture in New Zealand and will be challenged massively in the first two games in particular against France and Wales. Players come back understanding a lot more of what top level rugby is all about, and for me in particular it’s about the confidence they get from playing in an Irish jersey.

“There’s also the realisation that the road is only starting for them. It’s into the real world after U20s with no age limits, where you could come up against a 35-year-old player week on week. It’s a great opportunity that brings them back a bit more battle-hardened, but then they have to put in the hard work.”

Last season Peter witnessed first-hand the challenges and benefits for players post World Cup, with Academy members Jack O’Donoghue and Alex Wootton having just embarked on their second consecutive JWC tour.

“It’s all about balance as when players come back from the JWC they are exhausted, such is the intensity of the competition so we manage their game time very carefully. That said, when back playing both Jack and Alex were certainly more comfortable playing at U20 level.”

While competitive action grinds to a halt for the summer months, Peter and his staff will be hard at work planning and laying the groundwork for the season ahead;

“The Academy players are currently on four weeks off, with the players returning to training on the 23rd of June. Over the next few weeks a lot of off field work will be carried out with evening education modules. Regarding age grade projects, the Munster talent camps in Rockwell will be starting up in the second week of July where we’ll carry out a five week programme with underage squads.

“The summer is the time where a lot of the Academy staff can lay the foundation for the season ahead, pushing players mentally and physically on their return, and if we get the weather we got last summer we’ll be laughing!”

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