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Munster happy with Carbery debut as scrum-half Cronin shines

The former Leinster out-half got a rousing reception at Thomond Park.

JOEY CARBERY WILL have greater tests at out-half for Munster than coming on for the closing 27 minutes of a 38-0 win against a poor Cheetahs team, but his debut in Thomond Park was an exciting one for the southern province’s fans.

There was a try-assisting skip pass to Dave O’Callaghan in the right corner, some sharp touches in phase play as the second wave of attack behind forwards, as well as examples of his excellent handling skill.

Joey Carbery Carbery made a promising start to life at Munster. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Carbery was greeted by a rousing reception from the home fans as he jogged on to replace impressive academy back Shane Daly in the second half, and it looks like the former Leinster playmaker has been rapidly accepted as a Munster man.

“Pretty happy with Joey,” was Munster boss Johann van Graan’s assessment of the first sighting of Carbery in red. “He slotted straight into 10, some good decision-making and then that nice pass he got away to Dave O’Callaghan for his try.”

Carbery’s introduction meant a shift from out-half to fullback for JJ Hanrahan, who delivered an excellent 80-minute performance.

It also ensured Munster finished the game with three backline playmakers in Carbery, Hanrahan and Rory Scannell.

Although a weak Cheetahs defence wasn’t the most demanding test for them, it was interesting to see the fluidity of Munster’s attack with all three on the pitch.

“Yeah, when we signed [fullback] Mike Haley, we said we wanted multiple-decision makers onto the field and I thought that worked really well,” said van Graan.

“We used our strike runners like Sammy Arnold and Dan Goggin, but also moved the attacking threat around.

“We also needed multiple nines – if you want a quicker game you need multiple nines and sometimes the 10s get caught up into that and I thought between Mike, JJ, Rory and Joey, we did that pretty well.”

Neil Cronin Garryowen's Neil Cronin was composed for Munster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Van Graan was happy with all of his debutants in Thomond Park, citing Arno Botha’s ball-carrying, Haley’s “solidity” and Daly’s superb try-saving tackle in the second half.

There were also words of praise for scrum-half Neil Cronin, the 25-year-old who had a spell with Munster back in 2014/15 and has been consistently brilliant for Garryowen in the AIL since.

“To play like that for 65 minutes after being an amateur a few months ago and walking into a professional league, that was really good,” said van Graan.

Hanrahan, who benefitted from Cronin’s accurate delivery and good decision-making in the nine shirt, has been impressed with the Limerick man’s impact at Munster.

“Neily has been awesome,” said Hanrahan. “He’s got a real calmness to him, which is what you need from a nine and he takes everything in his stride.

“Nothing bothers him. In the heat of training, I’d be screaming at him and he just gives me a little wink. I’m kinda going, ‘Jeez, this guy is pretty cool coming straight off the AIL.’

“James Hart came off the bench as well and added real impetus to the game. That’s what we have in this squad, we’re building really good competition.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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