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Pro12: Marshall happy with Leinster outing as new signing looks on

Mike McCarthy was in the stands at the RDS to watch Connacht’s 17-0 loss to his suitors.

Ben Marshall has played five times for Leinster this season.
Ben Marshall has played five times for Leinster this season.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

MIKE MCCARTHY MAY be on his way in the summer to alleviate Leinster’s second row problems but coach Joe Schmidt was happy that his academy players are stepping up for now.

Four academy players featured in the province’s 17-0 win over Connacht at the weekend, with Ben Marshall and Jordi Murphy putting in fine, whistle-to-whistle performances.

Murphy seems to have bounded from Leinster’s back-row production line and hit the ground charging but the progress of Marshall will be monitored closely by a side in need of some fight in the second row.

Anyone that witnessed the devastating impact Clermont’s Nathan Hines wreaked on Leinster in the Heineken Cup double-header will recognise the importance of a man-at-war at the breakdown.

Once Quinn Roux took his shoulder-dislocating fall in Glasgow, Joe Schmidt and Leinster set in motion plans to secure Mike McCarthy’s signature next summer.

Connacht were justified in throwing their hands up in frustration at the impending loss of McCarthy but, as Schmidt alluded to in a 13 December press briefing, the westerners were not the only team to find their plans disrupted by a tempted player.

He told TheScore.ie, “It’s no different to the challenge we face every year when we are doing contracts, when some players [like Hines], reportedly, get offered twice as much money from a French club or elsewhere.”


McCarthy, having been in Carton House for a two-day Irish training camp last week, was in Dublin on Saturday to cheer on Connacht as they battled against the team he will be joining in the summer.

McCarthy will, no doubt, have been impressed by the performance of Marshall, 22, and could well be partnering the young lock next season.

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When he was asked if McCarthy’s presence in the RDS stands was an extra motivating factor for Leinster, and from a personal perspective, Marshall said, “I honestly didn’t even think about that. I take each game as it comes.

I don’t get that many chances but when I do, and Joe and Jono [Gibbes] do give me the chance, I look to give 100%. It’s a bonus that he was in the crowd to see what he is coming into.”

He added, “We were all a bit sore after what happened down in the Sportsground [when Leinster lost 34-6] so it was great to get one back up on one of the local lads.

“We talked during the week about treating the Connacht game as a Heineken Cup game as we needed the win so much.”

Young squad

Marshall was part of a Leinster XV that averaged 25 years and three months. Were it not for the presence of Isaac Boss, 30, Aaron Dundon, 32, and Andrew Goodman, 30, that average would be barely above 23.

Marshall commented, “They really made us fight for every inch, especially in the first half where they came right at us, carried and fought hard.

Joe was saying in the changing room at half-time that it was one of the youngest teams he has put out. It’s a testament to us that we went out there and put in a performance to beat Connacht.”

Marshall was content with his display in the victory and looked good in the lineout apart from a fumble forward as Leinster pressed for a bonus point in the final 10 minutes.

“The lineouts went well,” he declared. “The scrum too, especially in the second-half, we put it up to them.

“If Joe and Jono [Gibbes] want to put me in against Edinburgh next week, I’ll be delighted but, if not, I’ll be doing my best during the week in training.”

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Patrick McCarry

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