INPHO/Billy Stickland Conor Murray models the new Munster jersey.
Divided Loyalties

Rugby takes a back seat as Munster are divided by hurling

Clare and Limerick have their supports in the current squad.

MUNSTER RUGBY MAY be a united provincial front, but the battle lines drawn in Croke Park today are set to annex forwards coach Anthony Foley from most of his squad.

Foley hails from Killaloe in Clare, a county very much in the minority in the Munster squad these days. Naturally enough, most of the squad will be overjoyed to see a Limerick v Cork final.

“Yeah, Marcus [Horan] isn’t there anymore to annoy us about Clare GAA, which is a relief,” Conor Murray jokes to this week.

“Speaking to a couple of lads around PatricksWell, it’s a big hurling village, and they seem to be quite confident – Hopefully they get through. A final with Cork would be pretty interesting, especially within our squad.”

The scrum-half admits: “I was useless at hurling but I had to play because the majority of people in PatricksWell weren’t really into football so I had to pick up a stick and hang around with them.”

If it’s difficult to picture Murray on the hurling field, try to imagine Keith Earls as an underage goalkeeper with an oversized hurl.

“I played a bit in school alright,” the Moyross man revealed. “I played in goals, nothing major”

Coming from a rugby-filled household a drop-kick away from Thomond Park, Earls was never likely to prefer anything other than the oval ball. However, these days he has a wife and child to live with, and they have ensured that the Earls homestead is decked out in green and white.

“The whole county’s excited. The missus has a couple of flags hanging out the window of the house and the car.

“There’s a good buzz around the place and, I wouldn’t know much about hurling, but I’ve been impressed by the standard they’ve been playing at.

“They’re doing well and you’d love to tell them that Munster – well, the Limerick lads in Munster – are right behind them.”

Expect the quiet Banner men around the University of Limerick training centre to liven up if Clare do manage to see off their near neighbours this afternoon.

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