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Dublin: 4°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Chop-tackling Kilcoyne learning from Flannery's professionalism at Munster

The 25-year-old Ireland prop faces competition from James Cronin for the number one shirt.

Kilcoyne in the Munster front row alongside Damien Varley and BJ Botha.
Kilcoyne in the Munster front row alongside Damien Varley and BJ Botha.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

DAVE KILCOYNE COMPETES against a solid Sale front-row tomorrow, but his major concern may be the man in direct competition with him for Munster’s number one shirt.

James Cronin has enjoyed a swift rise over the last two years, bringing genuine aggression, ball-carrying hunger and rucking quality to the front row mix for the southern province.

25-year-old Kilcoyne is a 10-times capped Ireland international, but recognises that he faces “huge” pressure for his starting spot. A welcome feature – “I think that’s what we need to compete at the highest level.”

The UL Bohs clubman’s focus is inward, however, analysing and then improving the skills that will allow him to thrive in Munster’s loosehead spot and win more Ireland caps.

His tackle technique has been superb in recent times, as Kilcoyne has chopped low around the legs of ball carriers dominantly, winning the gainline and crucially allowing his teammates to compete for steals.

I suppose you have a couple of cornerstones in the game,” says Kilcoyne. “Attack, defence, scrum and breakdown. I always want to lead our defence. The chop tackle is one of our pillars down here in Munster and I suppose it’s big with the Irish team too.

“It’s a hard thing to do, so I do put a bit of time into it. I try to do the same with my attack.”

As a member of the front row union, Kilcoyne is now under the watch of Munster scrum coach Jerry Flannery, a legend of the province’s playing history and an equally well-renowned character within the game.

Kilcoyne understands the traits in Flannery that allowed him to become a Grand Slam winner, and recognises the value of working under the former Ireland hooker.

Dave Kilcoyne Kilcoyne speaks at the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“The side people don’t see of Fla is his work rate. He has an incredible work rate, whether it be himself in the gym or wherever. If you look at him as a player, he hugely prided himself on his professionalism.

“He’s brought that now as a scrum coach. He does huge in-depth analysis on the scrums, whether that be our own or the opposition,” continues Kilcoyne. “He takes a big interest in our play around the field as well, so he’s been a big breath of fresh air.

To be able to draw on someone of his experience is hugely beneficial.”

Flannery has succeeded Rob Penney as the province’s scrum coach, a development which has resulted in Munster using their time slots for scrummaging practice “more efficiently,” according to Kilcoyne.

The latest test of the Munster scrum is a Sale pack that the loosehead insists cannot be underestimated.

“They’re well able to compete. They have a good scrum and maul, they’re quite confrontational up front. They’re a big mauling side and they got a couple of tries against Saracens with their impressive maul.

“They’re going to be areas where they target us.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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