Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
James Crombie/INPHO Munster thanks their fans at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
# Munster
O'Mahony encouraged to see Red Army out in force ahead of Saracens clash
Meanwhile, head coach Anthony Foley says no definitive progress has been made in the search for an extra back.

“I DON’T KNOW why we do it to ourselves or our supporters.”

Peter O’Mahony agrees that the circumstances of Munster’s victory in Sale on Saturday would best be avoided again, but they crucially carry four points into Friday evening’s Pool 1 meeting with Saracens at Thomond Park.

“In the last two years, we’ve lost the opener and it puts you under savage pressure,” says O’Mahony, “so to come out of there and steal a win, we’re happy out.”

There were on-field issues for Munster to address in a “very honest” analysis session earlier today, largely based around the defensive failings in the first-half, as well as their inability to keep possession before the break.

Away from those tactical, technical and mental issues, O’Mahony says Munster took encouragement from their band of travelling support. There have been low attendances  in Limerick early on this season, but the province’s captain says any doubts about the Munster support were answered in the stands at the AJ Bell Stadium.

“You saw the support we had over there. People have been questioning our supporters over the last couple of months and you saw the way they showed up over in Manchester. I’m sure it won’t be any different on Friday night.

Peter O'Mahony Cathal Noonan / INPHO O'Mahony at the Castletroy Park Hotel this evening. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“You can’t really [describe it] when you’re away from home, even walking around afterwards and seeing the amount of red. I ended up next to Robin Copeland, and it was obviously his first European match with us.

He couldn’t believe that the stand was full of red. You can’t really put it into words.”

Munster say 21,818 tickets have been sold ahead of the clash on Friday, and the hope is that the manner of the victory over Sale can drive the sale of the remaining batch of seats at Thomond Park.

Meanwhile, head coach Anthony Foley said no definitive progress has been made in the search for a short-term signing to swell the backline options in Munster.

Keith Earls is currently sidelined with a knee problem, while a long-term injury to Cian Bohane and uncertainty as to when Tyler Bleyendaal may be available have left the province a little short, particularly in midfield.

“We’re always looking,” said Foley in Limerick this evening. “It’s important that it’s the right person, the right fit. We get through this weekend, then there’s a two-week break, then we have the Dragons and Ulster, and back into the Clermont games.

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Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan Cathal Noonan / INPHO Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan at Munster training in UL earlier. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“There’s a period of time where the focus can shift to looking for someone. What position? That can vary in terms of injuries, who’s coming back and if anyone picks up anything over the November internationals.

“You’re always looking for the right fit. Until we find it, there’s no point in talking about who it could be.”

Positively, Bleyendaal is recovering well from the neck operation he underwent last month.

I spoke to Tyler Friday night,” outlined Foley. “He’s going very well at the minute, although he was a bit disappointed with Canterbury losing to their younger brother, Tasman [in the ITM Cup]!

“He sounds in good form and he’s well on the road to recovery with Neil Tucker, who would have been here in Munster before and is working with Canterbury. He’s started his rehab programme and he’s going quite well.”

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