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Dublin: -1°C Saturday 23 January 2021
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Impressive full Munster debut for the 'small man with a massive heart'

In his first Munster start, Craig Casey helped the province to a Guinness Pro14 win over Connacht.

craig-casey Craig Casey in possession for Munster during their victory over Connacht. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan said that 20-year old scrum-half Craig Casey has a bright career in front of him after an impressive first start.

The Limerick native, who made his debut when he got four minutes off the bench against Connacht last April in Thomond Park, put on an impressive display to steer Munster to a 19-14 win over their neighbours at the Sportsground last night.

The Shannon RFC clubman, vice-captain of Ireland’s U20 Grand Slam team earlier this year, also got 12 minutes off the bench against Ospreys in October before Van Graan threw him in at the deep for yesterday’s Guinness Pro14 clash.

“He prepared well, he’s been waiting for the start for quite a while and he knew after this European block he was going to get his shot. He’s a small man with a massive heart,” said Van Graan.

“Some of the things that people don’t see — like managing the forwards, I think he did that pretty well. The way he attacked and defended off the scrums was very good.

“I’m really thrilled for him. We had 18 guys not available for selection for various reasons so we knew we needed to perform well and all credit to the playing group, I thought our play went very well.”

johann-van-graan-arrives It was a good night for Johann van Graan's side in Galway. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Van Graan said the key to the victory was going to be a solid start which would allow them dictate the game. The Reds did just that in a contest where they never trailed, with Jack O’Donoghue’s 24th-minute try helping them lead 16-9 at the break.

“We targeted a good start, Connacht tend to get off to a good start and we won the physicality early on.

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“We said it again at half-time and I thought we started well. We took our opportunities,” added Van Graan, whose side withstood a late Connacht rally inspired by a try from replacement out-half Jack Carty seven minutes from time.

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John Fallon

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