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Munster's try-saving tackler Shane Daly the latest Ireland 7s graduate to impress

The 21-year-old Cork Con back prevented what looked like a certain Cheetahs try at Thomond Park.

SHANE DALY IS best known as a centre, while some feel he has a future at fullback, but it was on the left wing that the 21-year-old academy player was handed his Munster debut in Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 win over the Cheetahs at Thomond Park.

While the disappointing performance from the Cheetahs must be taken into account in everything we analyse from this game, Cork Con club man Daly can certainly be happy with his first outing at senior level for Munster.

Shane Daly Daly made his Munster debut on the left wing. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Darren Sweetnam did real damage over on the right wing for Munster, but Daly largely had to make do with receiving the ball with traffic in front of him.

There was some sharp footwork to get to soft shoulders during his 10 carries for 33 metres, while Daly was well positioned to gather several Cheetahs kicks to the backfield, kicking for a good touch after one of those catches.

Ireland Sevens international Daly had four accurate passes during his 53 minutes on the pitch, while he was defensively sound, making six tackles wide on the left and just slipping off one.

The highlight, though, was the former Ireland U20 international’s superb try-saving tackle on Cheetahs fullback Malcolm Jaer in the 43rd minute, with Munster still only 12-0 up at that point.

Daly

Click here if you cannot view the clip above

While it’s very likely that Munster would have gone on to win this game even if the Cheetahs had scored here, it’s a vital tackle from Daly.

He begins this phase of defence up in the defensive line wide on the left. 

Daly

Part of Daly’s role as the Cheetahs move the ball to the other side of the pitch is to begin sweeping across to cover in a ‘pendulum’ motion, ensuring he is in place as the final defender on the other side of the pitch if required.

The Cheetahs go to the width with their attack, via passes from Nico Lee and Jaer, with a Jasper Wiese offload in between.

That frees wing Sibahle Maxwane to burst clear up the left.

The retreating Rory Scannell looks to slow the supporting Jaer with a tug of the shirt…

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… and briefly gets ahead of him, only to be tripped to the ground as Jaer passes across behind him.

With Jaer now offering a passing option for Maxwane, Munster fullback Mike Haley closes up on the Cheetahs wing from the backfield.

Maxwane gets his pass away to Jaer, but it’s worth noting that Haley holds his ground firmly just after the pass.

Haley

Haley’s drop of the right shoulder into Maxwane sends the Cheetahs wing to deck and means he can’t immediately follow up to support Jaer.

While all of this has been happening, Daly has been sweeping across from his initial position wide on Munster’s left.

His pace is obviously useful in this situation and then his tackle technique is simple and effective when he makes up the ground on Jaer – head tucked in behind the Cheetahs fullback and his arms wrapping a leg each.

Tackle

It’s also important to note another detail from Daly on the ground.

He stretches out his right arm towards the ball, looking to trap it in place.

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Daly’s intent is to prevent Jaer from freeing the ball for a potential offload to supporting Cheetahs players – and it’s a defensive skill in which sevens players are particularly proficient.

It’s a sign of intelligence from Daly, although there aren’t any Cheetahs players in close support thanks to Haley having taken Maxwane out of the equation briefly before turning to retreat himself.

Sweetnam is first onto the scene of the tackle and he immediately jackals over the ball.

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Click here if you cannot view the clip above

There’s another important contribution from Haley here, as he clamps around the jackaling Sweetnam, anchoring him in place and helping to brace him as the delayed Maxwane arrives in looking to clear Sweetnam out.

Maxwane makes little impact as Sweetnam gets his hands on the ball and though Jaer does his best to prevent the turnover by using his knees to prevent Sweetnam from lifting the ball cleanly away, the Munster pair blast the Cheetahs wing away and allow the rest of their retreating team-mates to seal the deal on the turnover.

Daly’s involvement in this passage is sevens-esque, which is no great surprise given that he spent most of last season with the Ireland Sevens team.

The Cork man was an instrumental squad member as Ireland made major progress in the seven-player code, securing a shock bronze medal as the invitational team at the London Sevens and finishing a highly-creditable ninth at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Although Ireland missed out on securing a place on the World Sevens Series for this season, players like Daly shone as they gained international exposure.

“There are a lot of things you have to learn,” said Daly back in March when asked about adapting to sevens. “Defensively, it’s huge because you’re in a situation in sevens every time that if you were in that same situation in 15s, it would be a disaster.

Shane Daly Daly was excellent for Ireland 7s last season. Source: Jayne Russell/INPHO

“You have five or 10 metres either side of you and you never get that in 15s. Your one-on-one tackling is huge and it’s a shock to the system when you first start playing. You feel like you have nobody around you.”

Ireland-capped Rory O’Loughlin and Adam Byrne, Munster pair Alex Wootton and Dan Goggin, Leinster backs Barry Daly and Tom Daly, and Ulster number eight Nick Timoney are among the other graduates of the Ireland Sevens programme in recent seasons.

While Daly’s involvement last season is far from being the only reason he has now been given his Munster debut, it has certainly been a key part of the journey.

“I find that sevens improves your 15s game and especially in defence,” said Daly, who helped Cork Con to their 2017 AIL title and played for Ireland in the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship final alongside James Ryan, Andrew Porter and Jacob Stockdale.  

It’s unclear whether Presentation Brothers College, Cork alumnus Daly will feature for the Ireland Sevens again this season and it will be interesting to see how involved he is with Munster in the coming weeks.

He impressed in midfield during the pre-season friendlies against London Irish and Exeter, but Johann van Graan has plenty of options in the centres, as well as the back three.

Tyrone Mintern and Shane Daly The Cork Con man is in his third year with the Munster academy. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

One thing is certain – the Munster head coach is a big fan of Daly’s abilities.

Daly was an unused replacement on Munster’s bench against Ulster back in April, with van Graan singing the 21-year-old’s praises in the build-up to that game.

“He did some things in training in terms of speed and feet and one pass that he gave,” said van Graan. “I went to him after one training session and said, ‘Listen, if you keep this up you’re going to play for Ireland soon.’

“That’s the talent that he’s got.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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