MUNSTER’S European faith had already been set in stone before the 33-6 victory against Ospreys, but the performance against the lowly Welsh outfit may have offered a little bit of a view into a bright future for the province.
Many (rightly) will say it’s all well and good doing it when the pressure is off and it’s a fair point. When it comes down to it this season, Munster, when it really mattered, simply haven’t been good enough.
Many factors come into consideration when saying that, but the bottom line is that results don’t lie.
Performances in Europe haven’t been up to scratch and that is something that all in the Munster set up will have to contend with until next season’s competition. However, all is not lost for those involved and, more importantly, Munster’s fans.
There are a number of viable exciting prospects pushing some of the well established starting lineup. Craig Casey has been talked about as a genuine contender to push Conor Murray for a long time by those in the know and his 23 minute showing against Ospreys, as well as his display against Connacht last month, bodes very well.
Casey was a star on the Ireland U-20’s side that won the Grand Slam in 2019 and it is no surprise to see him rise to this level. Fineen Wycherley made his first European start in the same game in the second row and although his future may lie in the back row, experience gained this season also puts him in good stead.
Calvin Nash, Ben Healy and Jack O’Sullivan also earned their first Champions Cup cap at Thomond Park. Nash has been on the outskirts of the Munster team for a few seasons now and his talent must soon turn into something more.
There have been glimpses of brilliance in his fleeting Munster appearances over the last two seasons, but glimpses are simply not enough at the top level. Nash has it all and a sustained run in the Munster team will no doubt give him the confidence to reach his potential.
Healy has been pushed to the forefront due to injuries to Joey Carbery, Tyler Bleyendaal and JJ Hanrahan at different stages during the season.
A start against Edinburgh in the Pro14 showed plenty of promise and he will no doubt have been boosted by his appearance against Ospreys.
He has shone at AIL, Schools and with the Irish U-20s and should get plenty of more opportunities in the Pro14 this season. O’Sullivan has done superbly since he returned from a knee injury and has been name checked by the coaching staff in glowing terms already.
Add the talents of the above and the likes of Jonathan Wren, Jake Flannery, Diarmuid Barron, John Hodnett, Keynan Knox and Sean French that are also waiting in the wings for more exposure at this level and things aren’t as bad as they seem around the province. Patience maybe needed, but there is plenty of optimism looking to the future.