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O'Mahony emerges as major doubt for Ireland's tour to South Africa

The 26-year-old is unlikely to play for Munster again this season.

PETER O’MAHONY HAS emerged as a major doubt for Ireland’s tour to South Africa, after Munster head coach Anthony Foley indicated that the back row is unlikely to play for the province before the end of the season.

Ireland travel to South Africa for a three-Test tour this summer, and the hope had been that the influential O’Mahony would prove his fitness for Munster before then.

Peter O'Mahony down injured O'Mahony was injured at the World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 26-year-old ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Ireland’s World Cup clash with France last October and has not played since. He missed the entirety of the Six Nations, but Joe Schmidt had hoped to see O’Mahony make a comeback with Munster this season.

“Not close,” was Foley’s response yesterday in Limerick when asked if O’Mahony was close to making a return.

“I don’t think so,” continued Foley when asked directly if O’Mahony would be seen playing this season. “Our physio is saying week 48, which is the Pro12 final week. So that’s him with no games, and that’s if everything’s going well, so I would say…”

The strong suggestion from Foley was that Munster are hoping O’Mahony will not be hurried back by Ireland this summer.

Joe Schmidt has pressed the likes of Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien into Test action soon after their recovery from injuries in recent seasons, with the loosehead prop featuring in Ireland’s World Cup squad after returning from serious neck surgery.

Is the Ireland medical team on the same page as Munster’s regarding O’Mahony?

“Well, they’re all the same people basically,” said Foley. “Everyone’s aware of it, but I think everyone’s kind of seeing how important Peter is and everyone wants to get him back as quickly as possible.

Peter O'Mahony and Aidan O'Connell O'Mahony doing rehab at UL. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We’re no different; we’d love him back, but unfortunately at the moment he’s still rehabbing.”

Foley was asked if O’Mahony himself has accepted that the prognosis on his knee means his chances of travelling with Ireland to South Africa are extremely slim.

“No, he hasn’t,” said Foley. “He hasn’t. I think at the moment, when you’re coming back from a knee injury that he’s coming back from, I think you go stage by stage. But at the moment, our medical advice is that it’s week 48.”

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Foley indicated his belief that it’s more likely O’Mahony will be seen back on the pitch in September.

Meanwhile, the Munster head coach confirmed that Kiwi out-half Tyler Bleyendaal has had a setback in his recovery from a hugely frustrating quad injury.

The former Crusaders playmaker has started just three games for Munster this season, and the province ruled him out for 12 weeks in January in the hope that an extended period on the sidelines would allow the quad issue to heal.

“Tyler had a minor setback on his return and we’ll see where he’s going,” said Foley yesterday. “He’s back up and running again, it’s just a minor detail and hopefully we’ll have him back in four weeks or so.”

Tyler Bleyendaal Bleyendaal has made five appearances for Munster. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A four-week timeframe would mean the former New Zealand U20 captain being available for the final regular season Pro12 fixture at home to the Scarlets, as well as any possible knock-out games.

Bleyendaal was unable to play for Munster at all last season, having arrived to the province following neck surgery.

Foley indicated that second row Donnacha Ryan is available for this weekend’s clash with Connacht having recovered from the concussion he suffered against Leinster, while it is hoped that Dave O’Callaghan [knee] will train fully tomorrow.

Mario Sagario [calf] and Dave Foley [ankle] are expected back next week, while academy lock Sean McCarthy’s knee injury is not as bad as initially feared.

“Sean picked up a nasty knee injury in the Ulster ‘A’ game, so his season is probably over, but it wasn’t as bad as first thought,” said Foley.

“Initial thoughts were medial cruciate kind of area, but it’s a fracture on the top of the bone in the shin. That could be eight to ten weeks, so not as bad as first feared.”

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Murray Kinsella

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