Limerick Leader rugby correspondent Colm Kinsella looks at some of Munster’s young players who will be trying to make strides in the coming year.
FEW could have successfully predicted the meteoric rise several young members of the Munster squad made over the past 12 months.
Perhaps the most impressive rise through the ranks was achieved by prop Dave Kilcoyne who only made his senior debut for Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12 on St Stephen’s Night 2011.
Since then Kilcoyne has emerged as the province’s first choice starting loosehead prop and gone on to win full international honours with Ireland.
We pick out some of the emerging talent within the Munster squad who will be hoping to make a big impact through 2013.
Former Ireland Schools and U-20 international Hanrahan completed two years with the Munster Rugby Academy before securing a Development contract for the 2012/13 season.
Last June, Hanrahan played an impressive role at out-half for the Ireland U-20 side that finished fifth in the Junior World Cup in South Africa and was nominated for Junior Player of the Year.
He first played for the Munster senior side against La Rochelle in the opening pre-season game in August 2011, and made his RaboDirect PRO12 debut against Newport Gwent Dragons in Thomond Park last September.
The youngest player in the senior squad, marked his first full start for the senior side by bagging two tries in their PRO12 victory over Zebre in October at Thomond Park.
Hanrahan, who can play inside centre as well as out-half, made his Heineken Cup debut against Edinburgh in October.
One of four Munster players in the Irish U-20 side that featured in the Junior World Cup in South Africa last June, back-row forward Buckley also featured in the 2011 JWC in Italy after playing in the U-20 Six Nations earlier that year.
Twenty-year-old Buckley also featured for a Munster Development side that defeated Russian professional outfit Enesei STM 34-24 in April of last year.
The Garryowen flanker has impressed for the Munster ‘A’ side in the British and Irish Cup.
Buckley, who will not turn 21 until April, will be hoping to build on the steady progress he made in 2012.
Now in his second year in the Munster Academy, Buckley has the potential to become a regular in the senior side in the seasons ahead.
ALTHOUGH he is yet to make his debut for the senior side, 24-year-old scrum-half from Co Sligo has been impressing with the Munster A side in recent seasons and has captained that team on a couple of occasions this season.
Sheridan represented Connacht at U-19 level before moving to Limerick where he plays with UL-Bohs.
A product of the Munster Academy, Sheridan is on a development contract this season. He has featured in all of Munster As British and Irish Cup games this term and has also played with the Ireland Club side.
While Sheridan is some way down the pecking order at present, he could well elevate himself to a more prominent position through 2013.
NOW in his final year of the academy, Hayes made his senior debut as a replacement in Munster’s pre-season game against Sale Sharks in August 2009 as an 18-year-old.
Since then, the imposing lock has represented the Munster A side on a number of occasions and was part of the B&I Cup winning side of 2012.
At the start of the season, Hayes started against La Rochelle in Munster’s opening pre-season game and came on as a replacement against Bristol. Still only 22 years of age, Hayes looks set to have a bright future in the Munster engine room and given the age profile of the squad’s second rows is likely to enjoy more gametime in the senior side in the seasons ahead.
The youngest member of the Munster Academy, O’Donoghue, who now plays his club rugby with UL-Bohemian, turns 19 on Tuesday next.
The Waterford-born number captained the Ireland U-18 Club side in games with France and England last April, and previously led Waterpark youths to an Avonmore SuperMilk Munster youth title in 2011.
O’Donoghue has already featured for the Munster ‘A’ side in the British and Irish Cup this season and impressed for UL-Bohs’ in their recent ODM Munster Senior Cup final clash with Cork Con. O’Donoghue is an exciting prospect and an accomplished ball carrier, who boasts an impressive workrate.
A STRING of impressive displays from the 22-year-old for UL-Bohs in the AIL and for the Munster A side resulted in Moroney being included in the Munster Academy this season.
Winger Moroney shot to prominence in 2008 when helping Castletroy College claim an historic first Munster Schools Senior Cup success.
The exciting finisher made his British & Irish Cup debut as a replacement against Neath in November 2011 and has added to his haul of appearances for Ian Costello’s side over the past 12 months.
Competition for places in the senior backline remains keen, but Moroney is a player who could well earn a debut for Rob Penney in the near future.
THE 26-year-old former St Munchin’s College star joined the Munster Rugby Academy at the start of the 2010/11 season and after completing his second year earned a Development contract for the current season.
Cotter had loan spells with Aviva Premiership giants London Irish and Bath before Christmas where he gained invaluable playing time.
The Young Munster clubman, who is from Garryowen, began his rugby career with Richmond. He has featured for the Munster A side in recent times, making four appearances in the British and Irish Cup, and will be hoping to move up the pecking order of Munster’s tighthead props during 2013.
THE Young Munster scrum-half is in his first year in the Munster Academy.
Haugh, who turns 20 next week, enjoyed an impressive run with Rockwell College at Schools Cup level.
The Clare native has impressed with Young Munster in the All-Ireland League in recent seasons, proving a very reliable goal-kicker. He has also represented Munster at U-18 and U-20 level. Given the strong level of competition for game time at scrum half with Munster, it may be some time before Haugh makes a major impact at senior level, but he boasts all the attributes needed to succeed.