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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Marmion keen to progress as Cooney and McGrath push for Ireland spots

The 26-year-old Connacht scrum-half made his first appearance of the season against Zebre last weekend.

IRELAND SCRUM-HALF Kieran Marmion knows he hasn’t secured the back-up spot behind Conor Murray in a World Cup year but is determined to push for his place ahead of the November Tests.

British and Irish Lion Murray is currently out injured, and the mysterious nature of his neck complaint means he isn’t guaranteed to back for Ireland’s November fixtures against Italy, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA.

Kieran Marmion goes over for a try that was later disallowed Marmion was part of Ireland's tour of Australia in June. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

26-year-old Marmion has played 22 times for Ireland and has been Murray’s understudy in recent years but his former Connacht team-mate, Ulster’s John Cooney, has been in outstanding form in the Guinness Pro14 early on this season. 

“John has been going well,” said Marmion. “He has been doing really well. He has been doing that for a few years and was doing that here as well. There are no surprises there really. 

“Luke McGrath is going really well too. There is great competition there. Obviously I haven’t had too many opportunities yet this season. When I do get out there this weekend I can kick on from last year.

“Of course I am looking forward to the November internationals. Hopefully I can put in a few good performances here, get in the squad and kick on from there.

“It’s a big year for everyone in Irish rugby. Everyone from all of the provinces want to go to that World Cup. It’s going to be a huge competition. That’s good for everyone. It means people will keep performing better. Hopefully, the squad gets better from that. 

“I don’t think anyone knows how bad his (Murray’s) injury is. To be honest, I don’t really think about it too much. It’s just whenever I get the opportunity I am performing as best as I can. 

“That’s the case with everyone. You don’t really think about those outside situations.”

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Marmion has now racked up 142 appearances for Connacht since his debut in the 2012/13 season.

Kieran Marmion Marmion made his first appearance of the season last week. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

He came off the replacements bench in the 32-13 bonus point win over Zebre last weekend and is determined to make an impression against Edinburgh at Murrayfield tomorrow evening [KO 7.35pm, eir Sport/Premier Sports].

“First week back, it was good to get a bit of a blowout off the bench there,” said Marmion. “The conditions weren’t ideal for running rugby but looking forward to getting out there this weekend and getting a good few minutes under the belt. 

“I have only had a week or two full training back. It is tough, I will take a few weeks to get that out of the system. Every week you are just keep looking to improve on that. 

“I’m not rushing it. This weekend I might get a few more minutes out there. Last weekend was my first week back. It was just good to get out and get cracking into the season.”

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Declan Rooney

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