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Van Graan eager to use Limerick hurlers to Munster's advantage this season

The South African has been impressed by John Kiely’s side’s run to the All-Ireland final.

Van Graan will invite some of John Kiely's squad to UL.
Van Graan will invite some of John Kiely's squad to UL.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE IDEA OF sports swapping ideas and sharing theories is nothing new, and Johann van Graan feels tapping into the success of the Limerick hurlers can be of real benefit to his Munster side this season as they bid to deliver silverware.

The South African has been intrigued by Limerick’s run to Sunday’s All-Ireland hurling championship final and after watching the gripping semi-final win over Cork, is keen to speak to John Kiely and his players.

Keith Earls recently spoke to the Limerick camp as their championship campaign gathered momentum and van Graan believes opening doors to gain insight from other sports and dressing rooms can be a real advantage to his set-up.

“I believe that is the marginal gains that you need to look for, that is why you need to build relationships across all sports,” the Munster head coach said.

“If someone can add and contribute to our team and our environment, I would always welcome them in here. It’s an incredible sport and to me, I spoke a bit with Darren Sweetnam…just the skill level is incredible.

“So for somebody outside of Ireland, as a South African, to come in here, I’m used to cricket, but to see a guy running with a hurling stick and catching a ball and taking it, I’ve really enjoyed it and admire the skill level.

“It’s an amateur sport and the coverage it takes, you look at all the flags around, incredible really.”

Galway provide the opposition for Limerick in Sunday’s Croke Park decider and the Tribesmen have previously benefitted from reciprocal visits from ex-Connacht coach and captain John Muldoon and Pat Lam during last year’s All-Ireland-winning summer.

“I’ll just enjoy it [the final], firstly,” he added. “To me it is not so much about the result — obviously the result is important — to see the amount people put in for their team has been something that I admire of Irish people, not only in rugby, but in all sports. I will be cheering on the sport.

“It is something I am looking to visit and to learn something from. I believe we can learn something from every single sport, so definitely it will be time well spent.”

Johann Van Graan Van Graan speaking to the media this week. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Munster open their new campaign with a first pre-season hit-out against London Irish on the newly-laid 3G surface at Musgrave Park tonight [KO 7.30pm], with preparations beginning in earnest for the Pro14 opener against Cheetahs on 1 September.

After a long pre-season block working with a core group, van Graan is keen to see if the players can transfer the skills they have been fine-tuning on the training paddock into a match situation.

“I’m looking to see can we convert what we did in training onto the field in a pressure situation,” he added.

“London Irish will also bring multiple players to Friday night’s game, so first 40 look at can we transition from training into the game and then the individual detail that we worked on, some of our catch and pass, some of our breakdown detail, some of our structural things, can it actually come to the fore in a game.

“We will use a lot of numbers on Friday night, so to me it is a process first on Friday evening, that is why it is a pre-season friendly and after that we will re-assess and take stock for next week’s game against Exeter.”

Munster:

15. Stephen Fitzgerald
14. Calvin Nash
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Darren Sweetnam
10. JJ Hanrahan
9. James Hart

1. Jeremy Loughman
2. Kevin O’Byrne
3. Brian Scott
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Darren O’Shea
6. Dave O’Callaghan
7. Tommy O’Donnell (captain)
8. Gavin Coombes

Replacements:

Mike Sherry
Cronan Gleeson
Dave Kilcoyne
Ciaran Parker
Billy Holland
Jean Kleyn
Sean O’Connor
Jack Daly
Neil Cronin
Jack Stafford
Ian Keatley
Shane Daly
Alex McHenry
Liam Coombes
Mike Haley

London Irish:

15. Greig Tonks
14. Topsy Ojo
13. Matt Williams
12. Fergus Mulchrone
11. Ollie Hassell-Collins
10. Theo Brophy Clews
9. Ben Meehan

1. Gordon Reid
2. Dave Porecki
3. Oliver Hoskins
4. Teofilo Paulo
5. Sebastian de Chaves
6. Josh McNally
7. Max Northcote-Green
8. Matt Rogerson

Replacements:

Saia Fainga’a
Harry Elrington
Petrus du Plessis
Barney Maddison
Sam Twomey
Brendan McKibbin
Stephen Myler
Jack O’Sullivan
Isaac Curtis-Harris
Jake Schatz
Bryce Campbell
Reuben Knight
Scott Steele
Sean O’Hagan

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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