Munster's victory over Leinster in the Magners League final was a victory for Ireland
By: Cian Fahey | Published Monday, June 20, 2011, 2:40 AM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 10:15 PM
Munster's 19-9 victory over Leinster at Thomond Park yesterday may not have felt like a good thing to a chunk of Irish supporters, but it was a great thing for Irish fans ahead of this year's Rugby world cup.
Despite relying on two foreigners to open the scoring as Liefemi Mafi sent Doug Howlett over the line for the home side's first try. Munster got strong performances from youngsters looking to break their way into the Irish setup.
Felix Jones has justified his selection ahead of the veteran Paul Warwick whenever he stepped over the white line this season and yesterday was no different. Jones dynamic running and strong defense could put him in contention as a role player in New Zealand. He would provide the squad with a different type of player to Rob Kearney who is expected to return to the team ahead of the Rugby world's biggest competition.
There has been some hype about Jones even before he left Leinster to join Munster in 2009 but not many people knew the name Conor Murray heading into this season. Murray has staved off Peter Stringer for the Munster number nine jersey ever since Tomas O'Leary's struggles with back and eye injuries prevented him from taking the field. Murray has impressed with his quickfire passing ability as well as the potential to make runs from behind the scrum.
Realistically Murray won't get playing time in New Zealand but nonetheless he provides depth at scrum half that the home nation would be proud of. With O'Leary, Murray, Reddan and Isaac Boss all looking to travel, a stalwart such as Peter Stringer may not even be able to make the final cut.
21 year old center Danny Barnes will have more motivation than most to make the national squad later this year. Barnes was born in Auckland, New Zealand and moved to Ireland when he was 10. His impressive display yesterday may not have been enough to make that dream a reality but his performance on such a big stage was a promising sign for all eager fans.
Yesterday's win can only give these youngsters confidence and should they kick on with that passion they could potentially push the players ahead of them to greater heights.
When you throw the Munster stars together with the more recognizable Leinster youngsters such as Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Jonathan Sexton, Luke Fitzgerald and Fergus McFadden, there is also a base from which to build a bright future for Irish rugby.