Cullen wary of for­mer Le­in­ster star Dempsey’s in­put to Bath think-tank

For­mer Le­in­ster stal­wart the ideal man to pro­vide the inside track on cham­pi­ons

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Gavin Cum­miskey

Leo Cullen made it abun­dantly clear, af­ter Le­in­ster’s gifted sec­ond-string de­stroyed Bernard Jack­man’s Dragons 59-10 at Rod­ney Pa­rade, that a fa­mil­iar fig­ure will be plot­ting their down­fall at The Rec next Satur­day.

“[Bath] have a coach in Gir­van Dempsey who knows us very well which is al­ways dan­ger­ous,” said Cullen.

“Gir­van has worked very closely with us over a num­ber of years and I’m sure he’ll have built him­self up for this game. He’s so metic­u­lous in his prepa­ra­tion, he’s been amaz­ing in de­vel­op­ing some of the younger guys you see out there to­day and the work he’s put in through the academy has been bril­liant.

“We’ve def­i­nitely seen some fa­mil­iar traits in their play­ing style so it should be a great match.”

Fe­lipe Con­tepomi, Dempsey’s re­place­ment as Le­in­ster backs coach, will have other ideas.

The prov­ince’s phe­nom­e­nal squad depth cur­rently rises above any other rugby nar­ra­tive.

The Dragons, with their Welsh con­tin­gent re­turned, were clin­i­cally and re­peat­edly sliced open on Satur­day evening.

Bonus point

Of those who fea­tured for Ire­land in Novem­ber, only Ross Byrne and An­drew Porter reap­peared as Le­in­ster ac­cu­mu­lated four bonus-point wins from four games, three away from home, dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional win­dow.

“Conor O’Brien gave us re­ally good go-for­ward in the mid­dle of the field and Ross Byrne con­trolled the game well with a cou­ple of good kicks for Dave Kear­ney’s tries,” Cullen con­tin­ued.

“This group has worked in­cred­i­bly hard in this block. To get four wins sets us up well in the league and there’ll be some in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion dis­cus­sions with a dif­fer­ent fo­cus next week against Bath.”

Num­ber eight de­mands a pro­longed de­bate as Max Dee­gan and Cae­lan Doris are both push­ing hard to start.

Same goes for Scott Fardy. The undis­puted leader when Rhys Rud­dock and Johnny Sex­ton are ab­sent, Fardy’s re­cent hero­ics are sim­i­lar to his ex­ploits when the Wal­la­bies reached the 2015 World Cup fi­nal.

Man of the match in Rod­ney Pa­rade, he was even bet­ter against the Ospreys last week, the 34-year-old will prob­a­bly drop to the bench as Devin Toner and James Ryan cur­rently boast the high­est stan­dard of sec­ondrow play in the world.

Im­prove

Rud­dock and Josh van der Flier are also slated to re­turn as the flankers aim to im­prove their Ire­land se­lec­tion prospects be­fore the Six Na­tions.

Seán O’Brien (arm surgery), Jack Co­nan (AC joint) and Dan Leavy (neck) re­main listed as in­jured.

Re­cu­per­a­tion be­ing a key tenet within this Ir­ish sys­tem, the view that play­ers need a pro­vin­cial game be­fore Eu­ro­pean ac­tion re­sumes no longer ap­plies to Cullen’s Le­in­ster.

From the Ire­land side that de­feated the All Blacks on Novem­ber 17th, Rob Kear­ney, Johnny Sex­ton, Tadhg Fur­long, Devin Toner, James Ryan, van der Flier, Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath and pos­si­bly Jor­dan Larmour will reap­pear from a three week mini-break to tan­gle with Bath over suc­ces­sive Satur­days.

Needs-must

Else­where, re­turn­ing in­ter­na­tion­als in the Guin­ness Pro14 proved a case of needs-must with Rory Best and Ja­cob Stock­dale com­ing off the bench to se­cure vic­tory over Cardiff in Belfast while Peter O’Ma­hony and Keith Earls started Mun­ster’s 44-14 thump­ing of Ed­in­burgh in Cork on Fri­day.

Conor Mur­ray clocked 80 min­utes, to O’Ma­hony’s hour, as Mun­ster ran riot in front of na­tional coach Joe Sch­midt thanks to the try scor­ing ex­ploits of An­drew Con­way and fit again cen­tre Chris Far­rell.

Con­nacht, de­spite an im­pres­sive vic­tory over the Chee­tahs in South Africa that in­cluded a su­perb Tom Far­rell try, are suf­fer­ing the most from Novem­ber de­mands with Kieran Marmion out for three months fol­low­ing an­kle surgery while Bundee Aki has re­turned home to New Zealand to get mar­ried.

News, re­ports and re­ac­tion: pages 6&7

Tributes have been paid to well-known GAA ad­min­is­tra­tor Shea­mus Howlin from Wex­ford, who died on Satur­day af­ter a se­ri­ous ill­ness. A for­mer chair of the Le­in­ster Coun­cil, he ran for the pres­i­dency of the GAA in 2014 but lost out to Aod­hán Ó Fearghail and worked on a broad range of na­tional com­mit­tees.

At the time of the his death he was chair of the GAA’s In­sur­ance Com­mit­tee and had pre­vi­ously been head of the Over­seas De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee dur­ing Nickey Bren­nan’s pres­i­dency, 2006-09. He had also been chair of his own county, Wex­ford’s county com­mit­tee.

GAA pres­i­dent John Ho­ran said that Shea­mus Howlin had “over a distin­guished life­time of un­selfish ser­vice, epit­o­mised ev­ery­thing good about the As­so­ci­a­tion.”

Shea­mus Howlin ran for GAA pres­i­dency in 2014

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