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    Murray Kinsella articles

    This lad has seriously impressed me this year with some of his articles over on The Score.
    We have threads for some other journo's articles, but I think it's worth sticking one up for this guy as he's probably the best rugby journo around at the moment.

    Link to a list of his articles here

    Some of the analysis articles he does after matches are must reads. He puts an amazing amount of work into each piece. This one is his analysis of the Toulouse game, as an example.

    Wasn't sure which forum to stick this in, so put it in supporters section.
    He was actually in the academy at one stage too. Can't say I ever heard much about him as a player, but his articles are well worth a thread of their own.

    Roger Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    RIP Anthony Foley - The greatest of great Munster men.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    #2
    Couldnt agree more , he has a great eye for detail and his articles are well put together.

    He is destined for bigger and better things..

    Comment


      #3
      Great idea for a thread. Had thought of adding his stuff into the Munster blogs thread but then didn't as it's not a blog! Think there was some discussion about adding him into the news feed for the front page as well, as already happens with news updates from the MR website, but even if that happens it'll probably generate more comment having his stuff appear here as well.

      Think it's worth posting the Toulouse one in full, just to get things off to a start:

      Analysis: Munster’s breakdown and mauling power give them a Heineken Cup shot

      We’ve pulled out the GIFs and videos to examine the strength of Rob Penney’s men in dismantling Toulouse last weekend.

      Apr 8 3:00 PM 13,809 Views 26 Comments
      Share5 Tweet34 Email56
      As well as being a mental pillar for Munster, Paul O'Connell is a technical leader.

      Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

      MUNSTER ARE INTO their second consecutive Heineken Cup semi-final after what was arguably their finest performance to date under head coach Rob Penney.
      While there is a sense that Harlequins last season were a higher standard opponent than Toulouse, that should not take away from the province’s excellence in Thomond Park on Saturday.
      Munster thrived at the breakdown and ruck areas once again, while their maul enjoyed almost total dominance. It would be foolish to get overly carried away by the performance of Penney’s men, but they did play a complete brand of rugby on Saturday.
      While the media and supporters have questioned the width in Munster’s game plan over the past two seasons, Penney has remained focused on rounding his team’s skills for important matches like that against Toulouse.
      The ability to play a multi-faceted style was always the aim,” Penney told TheScore.ie. “We’ve got our maul going really well, we’ve got the robust parts of our game going really well.”
      “But at any point in time, watch out on the edge, because we’re going to move the ball and challenge you down there as well.”
      Rucking accuracy vital

      Almost everything any team attempts to do in attack is underpinned by a need for security at the rucks. On Sunday, we saw how Leinster failed to fire any real attacking shots as Toulon managed to steal and disrupt repeatedly at the breakdown.

      Source: James Crombie/INPHO
      While Munster have not played a team of Toulon’s quality so far in this season’s competition, they have not encountered the same issue as their provincial rivals did in the south of France.
      Munster’s efficiency in clearing defenders out at ruck time has been superb throughout the Heineken Cup, and they won 100% of their attacking rucks against Toulouse on Saturday, securing all 70 of them.
      The only time they have dipped below 94% was away to Perpignan, when they lost four of their 49 rucks. Those are mightily impressive stats, but they give us no qualitative meaning whatsoever. For that, we look to Saturday’s 47-23 win.
      A winger is not just a finisher anymore

      Joe Schmidt can take credit for bringing hard-working, ruck-hitting wings firmly into the public consciousness, but he is not the only coach who expects his wide men to do more than dance their way over the tryline to finish off teammates’ good work.
      Here, we look at the contributions of Keith Earls in the build-up to his own try, but the intention is to illustrate what so many of his teammates did throughout the clash with Toulouse. Forwards are expected to be efficient in clearing out rucks, but when a team can get their backs working as effectively, they become a real threat.
      On the third phase of the attacking passage, Earls makes his first rucking effort, clearing Florian Fritz off the ball in a straightforward manner. It’s not particularly noteworthy in a technical sense, but it provides Conor Murray with vitally quick ball.

      Munster work the ball wide to the left, and when the ball comes back into midfield, we see Earls pop up at the ruck on phase seven. This time, it’s a hugely impressive contribution from the right wing, as he blasts Joe Tekori right off the ball.
      At 6ft 6ins and 122kg, the 26-times capped Samoan would probably not expect to be cleared out of a solid jackaling position by a 90kg back, but Earls’ decision-making is superb.
      The Munster wing accelerates into the contact, aware that Tekori’s bulk will prevent him [Earls] from going off his feet and conceding a penalty. Earls dips his right shoulder to get a nice shot in on Tekori’s ribs, while wrapping his left arm over the flanker’s neck.

      All in all, it’s a high-quality effort from Earls to ensure that Munster maintain their quick possession, while the efforts of Dave Foley [who was excellent around the rucks] in removing Yoann Maestri must be noted too.
      Three phases later, Earls is once again involved after Munster are tackled, and again he is decisive. Murray snipes to the right of the preceeding ruck, and Earls appears on the scrum-half’s left, smashing Fritz away from the ball before he has a chance to snap over it.

      Again, there is nothing technically stunning about his actions, but so often effective rucking is about attitude. On phase 10 of a sustained attack, it’s about having that work rate to accelerate into the breakdown situation and remove a threat aggressively, which Earls does.
      Remarkably, that was not the end of Earls’ rucking efforts before he scored the try. On phase 12, we saw him remove Maxime Médard after James Coughlan was driven backwards.
      Earls himself has to move backwards to enter the ruck legally, not always an easy thing to do with discipline after 12 phases of energy-sapping attack. As we see below, that doesn’t stop Earls from retreating and then dipping low enough to remove Médard and ensure more speedy possession.

      Play moved away to the left-hand side of the pitch, allowing Earls a quick breather before scoring seven phases later. While we highlight Earls’ role in this passage, each of Munster’s players deserves credit.
      Left wing Simon Zebo hit three rucks effectively before delivering the scoring pass, while the forwards worked incredibly hard to maintain possession. Munster have a wonderful work rate when it comes to rucking, and the breakdown in defence [as we will touch upon], meaning they lose a particularly low amount of ball once their ball carrier has been tackled.
      The aggressive focus on clearing defenders away from the ball also allows them to play with quick possession when they need to. The example below – which comes just before CJ Stander’s try – demonstrates as much.

      Following the initial breakaway from a maul by Damien Varley, Tommy O’Donnell gets very, very low to roll Maestri away from the ball, ensuring Murray has a clean platform to launch the next phase.
      When Stander carries off the scrum-half’s pass, we see Coughlan and Paul O’Connell ruck a full metre beyond the ball, again allowing Murray the cleanest of possession. Toulouse’s defence is massively stressed and a try is all but certain.
      Just to hammer home the point that Munster’s rucking efforts were based around all 22 players performing effectively in this area, we’ve highlighted an excellent Ian Keatley contribution in the animation below.
      It’s ideal use of the ‘can-opener’ or ‘tin-opener’ technique to clear out the threat of dynamic flanker Yacouba Camara. Recognising that he doesn’t have the power or momentum to smash Camara clear, Keatley instead whips him off to the right, keeping possession quick.
      Tis but a scratch.

      Comment


        #4
        (Part 2)

        The real test of Munster’s rucking ability will come against Toulon, who showed exactly how much of a threat they are over the ball in defence against Leinster.

        There is certainly encouragement to be taken from Munster’s rucking display against Toulouse, but the aggression, awareness, technical perfection and work rate will need to go up another notch again in the semi-final.
        Anything Toulon can do…

        Throughout the current campaign, Munster have frustrated teams with their ability to turn the ball over on the deck. Penney is fortunate to have a number of excellent breakdown specialists in his squad, as captain Peter O’Mahony alluded to.
        “I think we are lucky with some of the players we have obviously,” the Munster captain told TheScore.ie. “Damian Varley, Tommy O ’Donnell, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan, these kind of guys.
        “Obviously Paulie too, who for a big man gets himself in a good position to get those turnovers. We are lucky with the personnel, but we do do a lot of work on it. Axel does a lot of our breakdown stuff and he’s very good at it.”

        Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO
        The influence of ‘Axel’ [Anthony Foley] in this regard cannot be overestimated, as he is the man who carries out the technical breakdown work with the Munster players on the training ground, alongside skills coach Ian Costello.
        “Axel has a couple of great breakdown drills that he’s done a lot of work on with us over the last 18 months,” says O’Mahony.
        Coming into Saturday’s game, Munster had won 43 turnovers of the opposition ball. It’s worth noting that not all of those came at the breakdown, but there was a large majority of them won on the deck.
        Against Toulouse, we saw Munster turn the ball over nine times to stifle and frustrate the visiting team. Those steals came through a combination of stripping the ball directly from the carriers’ hands, turning it over at the breakdown and the infamous choke tackle.
        BJ Botha got Munster going in this area in the 13th minute, being awarded a penalty after Gaël Fickou clung onto the ball on the ground. As you can see below, the South African prop reads the situation perfectly, recognising that Coughlan is going to scrag tackle the Toulouse centre, pulling him down to ground directly in front of Botha.

        Botha jackals over the ball, a position that we have seen Munster players in repeatedly this season [think of O'Mahony and O'Connell during the Six Nations too]. The southern province don’t always get it 100% spot on in their attempts to steal possession [as we saw when Stander conceded a penalty in the second half], but they are accurate more often that not.
        One of the real positives on Saturday was the performance of Stander off the bench. Having been forced to bide his time, it’s apparent that the former Bulls back row has been working hard at improving his skills on the training paddock.
        His contributions to Munster’s turnover count [Stander made three] fully demonstrated as much. The 24-year-old had one vital steal on the deck as Toulouse enjoyed their ‘purple patch’ in the second half.

        Similarly to their efficient rucking efforts, Munster’s turnover threat was not all about the forwards. In the 18th minute, we saw fullback Felix Jones [who always works hard around the rucks] responsible for a turnover after a clever, determined piece of play.
        Toulouse shift the ball out to the incredibly strong Louis Picamoles [who was clearly struggling with that hip injury], and Earls goes in low around the No. 8′s ankles. While the first-up tackle doesn’t halt Picamoles, Earls clings on to allow his teammates to target the ball.
        As we see below, Jones gets fended at first, but fights his way back in on the ball and as Picamoles falls, the Munster fullback pulls the ball out the side of the forming ruck for Coughlan to scoop up.

        Following the excellent victory away to Gloucester in the pool stages, we highlighted Munster’s strength in ‘stripping’ the ball from opposition ball carriers, and there were other notable examples of the home side doing that against Toulouse.
        Coughlan is particularly excellent at this skill – something that Foley and Costello have worked on this season – and showed as much in the first half, tearing the ball clear from the grasp of Maestri [below].

        Stander provided another fine example of the skill in the second half of the game, stripping the ball from Fickou’s hands to start the phase of Munster attack that finished with Zebo crossing in the left-hand corner.
        JJ Hanrahan is on hand to aid Stander in creating a situation that looks like developing into a choke tackle turnover, but the South African has the raw strength to rip the ball out of Fickou’s grasp.

        These in-contact skills are something that Munster have specialised in throughout the Heineken Cup this season, but it’s worth noting again that they have not faced a team of Toulon’s power.
        However, there is encouragement in Munster’s ability to turn teams over both at the breakdown and in contact. Toulon showed that they can get over the gainline repeatedly, but there were many instances in which their carriers became isolated in doing so.
        Clearly, Munster must win far more of the collisions than Leinster did at Stade Mayol on Sunday, but they will trust themselves to steal possession when Toulon become detached from their main carriers.
        The maul demoralises any team

        Munster’s superb maul was perhaps the key to their victory on Saturday. The two penalties Penney’s men scored in the first half came directly from their mauling efforts, while both key tries just after half time were built on the maul platform.

        Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO
        ‘Axel’ deserves credit for his work in this area too, something that Ireland forwards coach John Plumtree was happy to give during the Six Nations.
        I think the bonus for me leading the pack is that the provinces are all well led, they’ve got good coaches,” Plumtree told TheScore.ie. “They’re all pretty passionate about that area [the maul] as well, so it makes it easier for me when it comes to the Ireland.”
        Munster have shown up well at maul time during their European campaign up to this point, and they will trust themselves to make further gains there against Toulon. Foley’s forwards are not the heaviest, but as Paul O’Connell indicated after the Toulouse match, mauling is not all about size.
        “Technically we have a very good maul. At all the Irish provinces, it is something they work very hard on and we certainly got a lot of reward from it, particularly when we came out in the second half.”
        The tries for Dave Kilcoyne and Stander were the most obvious examples of the mauling strength Munster displayed, but the foundations for those drives were laid in the first half.
        The opening maul by Munster resulted in the penalty from which Keatley made it 10-0.

        One of the first things to note is the manner in which O’Donnell ‘transfers’ the ball to O’Connell almost before his feet are even back on the ground. We saw this repeatedly with the Irish maul during the Six Nations, and it just means that any Toulouse attempts to ‘sack’ the Munster maul will not bring the ball to deck.

        The second feature to notice is the defensive efforts by Toulouse as Munster drag the ball to the very back of the maul and begin to elongate it.
        In the shot below, Toulouse have committed just four of their forwards to defend against eight Munster players, with Varley having arrived to lend his power to proceedings.

        Asked after the game if he had expected his forwards to be so dominant at the maul, Penney’s reply was to the point: “Yes, we did.” One reason for that was likely a pre-match identification of Toulouse’s unwillingness to overcommit forwards to defending mauls.
        That was again apparent with Munster’s next maul, which ground forward and laid the platform that allowed them to win the penalty that made the score 13-3.
        Tis but a scratch.

        Comment


          #5
          (Part 3)


          Similarly to the first time, O’Connell transfers the ball as soon as possible after making the catch in the line-out and Munster swiftly work the ball to the tail, away from any Toulouse attempts to create a choke tackle situation.
          As Munster go about creating a beautifully long maul, Toulouse commit just three defenders to the initial forming [below]. That allows the Munster maul to make its first forward strides relatively unimpeded and by the time the French side decide they need bodies in there, it’s too late.

          Munster had one further superb maul in the first half, and although they got nothing from it in terms of scores, it was perhaps the most important of the entire game. Once again, we see the swift transfer of possession as Munster move the point of attack immediately.
          Toulouse finally commit bodies to sacking the initial catcher, but they are beaten by Munster’s fine technique in shearing off to the right.

          As Munster begin to roll forward, the Toulouse attempts to recover are desperate and aggressive, but Munster’s patience and intelligence in finding the next weak point ensure that the forward progress is maintained.
          When the ball is eventually moved off to the right of the pitch, Casey Laulala’s offload attempt to Jones is knocked-on, but this maul was hugely important for Munster’s forwards.
          “It is a great feeling to be part of it. Having been on the other side of it, it is really disheartening for the other team,” said O’Connell after the game. This was the pivotal moment in the forward battle on Saturday; Munster knew for certain that they were the better pack.
          Making it count after half time

          The restart to the second half was a Munster kick, and Keatley put the ball in an area where he knew Toulouse would have to kick to touch; Munster wanted a maul as soon as possible after half time.

          The out-half was accurate in placing the ball deep on the left, and a superb chase from Earls, Stander and O’Donnell forced Médard to kick under pressure, scuffing the ball into touch just outside the Toulouse 22. Stage set.

          Toulouse actually do a better job of defending this one initially, but once again Munster’s superior technique, patience and organisation beats the French side’s greater mass. This kind of psychological blow is important in any game, filling Munster with confidence and sapping Toulouse of theirs.
          Even for the Top 14 side’s backs looking on, this kind of mauling dominance is an energy and momentum-sapper; as O’Connell says it’s extremely “disheartening” for any team.
          The final mauling clip we look at here comes just before Stander’s try, and it demonstrates the Munster forwards’ ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of the maul. Foley wants his forwards to react to each changing situation, rather than being overly slavish to pre-agreed routines in certain areas of the pitch.
          We see that below, with Varley taking advantage of a gap to the left of the maul to burst over the gainline, putting Munster on the front foot and allowing his fellow forwards to move forward with momentum as they ruck.

          The maul has been an area of strength for Munster in the Heineken Cup this season, but like all aspects of their game, it will need to step up another level when they face Toulon in the semi-final.
          There will be justified confidence as they look to take on Bernard Laporte’s side, although what worked against Toulouse may not work in exactly the same way against Toulon. The positive signs are that Munster’s forwards are intelligent enough and patient enough to find a way forward.
          If Munster’s maul can make gains against the mammoth Toulon forwards, the psychological boost would be a huge one. Led by Steffon Armitage, the French side will expect to physically overpower Munster in the manner they did Leinster; O’Connell and company must demonstrate that they are mentally and technically up to the task.
          It’s a semi-final, everyone has a chance…

          Toulon will clearly and deservedly come into the semi-final as firm favourites, but that was the case with Clermont when they faced Munster at this stage last season. A semi-final of the Heineken Cup is a highly pressurised game, but underdog status relieves Munster in that regard.
          The sneaking suspicion is that Munster have had an easier ride to this point of the competition than other sides [Pool 6 was certainly not one of 'death'], but Penney’s side have done more than enough to deserve this shot at qualifying for the final.
          Winning away in Perpignan, running six tries past a large Toulouse team and their general technical excellent in the tighter areas of the game all provide reasons to be optimistic ahead of the trip to France.
          Tis but a scratch.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mr chips View Post
            Great idea for a thread. Had thought of adding his stuff into the Munster blogs thread but then didn't as it's not a blog! Think there was some discussion about adding him into the news feed for the front page as well, as already happens with news updates from the MR website, but even if that happens it'll probably generate more comment having his stuff appear here as well.
            Definitely think it's worth adding his stuff to the news feed.

            Roger Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
            --------------------------------------------------------------------
            RIP Anthony Foley - The greatest of great Munster men.
            --------------------------------------------------------------------

            Comment


              #7
              Yeah, great analysis and detail
              "There are a lot of points that we’ve left behind and this is with a young group. That probably tells you what they’re capable of and that they’re a very good side.

              Probably next year or the year after next they will take some stopping"

              Anthony Foley, May 2016. Axel RIP

              Comment


                #8
                While I agree that a lot of his stuff is quite good, I was very disappointed with this article (link below) during the 6 nations, it was basically an attempt to hang Marshall for Drico's mistakes & a cry to get D'Arcy back into the side, anyway it just didn't sit well with me as I thought it was poor form.

                http://www.thescore.ie/ireland-centr...00657-Feb2014/

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Munster Mojo View Post
                  While I agree that a lot of his stuff is quite good, I was very disappointed with this article (link below) during the 6 nations, it was basically an attempt to hang Marshall for Drico's mistakes & a cry to get D'Arcy back into the side, anyway it just didn't sit well with me as I thought it was poor form.

                  http://www.thescore.ie/ireland-centr...00657-Feb2014/
                  It would be poor form if you thought that it was not his genuienly held view that Marshall was at fault; otherwise he has just provided his opinion!

                  Any thoughts on what/why he may have had an agenda on this front. He is not from Leinster if thats part of your thinking, waterford lad who was (not sure if he still does) playing with Waterpark. Played with the Munster Juniors as well if I am not mistaken.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Excellent articles. What also strikes me is all of the "resourcing " of rucks that Munster did, and Leinster obviously didn't do vs. Toulon.
                    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man - George Bernard Shaw


                    Comment


                      #11
                      No nothing like that I'm a Waterford man myself!

                      To me it just seemed to be toeing the same line as the rest of the media in bascially obsolving BOD of all blame & instead making Marshall the fall guy. I was more disappointed that it was the same BOD love in stuff that the rest of the media go on with more than anything really.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Munster Mojo View Post
                        No nothing like that I'm a Waterford man myself!

                        To me it just seemed to be toeing the same line as the rest of the media in bascially obsolving BOD of all blame & instead making Marshall the fall guy. I was more disappointed that it was the same BOD love in stuff that the rest of the media go on with more than anything really.
                        have you completely excluded the possibility that he may have been right..that it was in fact primarily Marshalls fault

                        Wouldnt agree with all he wrote on it, but certainly some degree of truth in his points.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Pretty sure Murray himself is/was a centre & definitely was a back in the munster academy.
                          So I'd expect his thoughts on back-play to be based on the coaching he got in the munster setup which I'd expect would include who's responsible for what defensively.
                          Plus remember the junior players are expected to adapt to their seniors tactics & BOD has always been unusual in his "extra flanker" approach to defending.
                          Plato: \"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.\"

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by bobbin View Post
                            have you completely excluded the possibility that he may have been right..that it was in fact primarily Marshalls fault

                            Wouldnt agree with all he wrote on it, but certainly some degree of truth in his points.
                            There was probably portions of blame on both sides, I just thought it was a bit harsh to more or less completely blame Marshall, after all BOD has been shooting out of the line a lot this season & been caught (North's try v Northampton being 1 example) & Marshall wasn't there in most cases. When Jonathan Davies did something similar in the 2nd Lions test he was roundly criticised & blamed for not trusting Drico in defence, but then Drico can do no wrong I guess!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Excellent article, definitely worth following his stuff
                              Hip Flasks at the ready, double for a Stringer ankle tap!

                              Comment

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