West Cork influence grows as nine Munster players against Leinster have strong links to the region

May 22nd, 2023 11:30 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Innishannon man Jack Crowley celebrates kicking Munster's winning drop goal against Leinster in the URC semi-final.(Photo: Dan Sheridan/INPHO)

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PETER O’Mahony didn’t sugarcoat his choice of words to hail Jack Crowley’s winning drop goal in Munster’s epic URC semi-final win against Leinster.

The 23-year-old Innishannon man emerged as the match winner when he nailed a late drop goal as Munster stunned Leinster 16-15 in their semi-final at the Aviva Stadium.

Crowley’s moment of magic sends Munster into the United Rugby Championship final against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday, May 27th (5.30pm).

‘Jack had the balls to knock it over and here we go,’ was O’Mahony’s description, batting away superlatives to hail the Bandon rugby ace; his skills honed and moulded at Old Chapel came up trumps on the big stage.

The image of Crowley, right hand raised in celebration, as he turned away after his winning drop goal will live long in the memory. It feels like an important moment in his ongoing rise, but he won’t get carried away.

‘The moment itself is something but it’s more the 77 other minutes before that that the boys put in,’ Crowley told RTÉ Sport.

‘The forwards coming out with it in the corner, the effort that the backs put in, the 23. Then you go beyond that to the lads back home who aren’t on the pitch today.

‘That’s what goes into today. That moment it goes over the bar, that's what you practice for, that’s what you are there to do, you have to do that, it’s the effort that the boys put in, far beyond the 23.’

The West Cork influence on Munster rugby was there for all to see last week. While five local men featured, four more Munster players have strong links to this region, bringing the West Cork connection to an incredible NINE players. Former Bandon RFC star Jack Crowley, Skibbereen’s Gavin Coombes and Rosscarbery’s John Hodnett all started. The Wycherley brothers, Fineen and John, from Bantry, both came on in the second half. Shane Daly’s father Bill is a former Bandon RFC captain and is the current club president. Jack O’Donoghue’s father Neilus, is an Enniskeane man, and Jack still has plenty of relations in West Cork. The Scannell brothers, Niall and Rory, who both played against Leinster, have a strong link to Beara – their late grandfather is ‘Big’ Donal O’Sullivan from Ardgroom (himself a son of TD Ted O’Sullivan), and he captained Cork in the 1956 All-Ireland football final and also served as chairman of Cork GAA and the Munster Council.

More evidence, if needed, that West Cork’s growing rugby reach stretches to every corner of the region.

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