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IT has been a hectic few days with Munster Schools senior and junior games in Thomond Park while the province mourning the death of former rugby great and Shannon legend Brian O’Brien.
My long-time memory of Brian O’Brien was after an interprovincial game played in the Ulster University pitch in Belfast in 1999. Munster had put together a side that could match the best in European rugby and they had not beaten Ulster on their own patch in 20 years. The win that day, Saturday, September 4th, was a turning point in Munster’s fortunes and the following season, the Reds reached the final of the European Cup only to lose to Northampton in Twickenham in 2000. I made my way to the Munster dressingroom after the game that day in Belfast and was greeted with a rendering of ‘Stand Up and Fight’ led by the tuneful ‘Briano.’ My initial reaction was, ‘that will never catch on,’ but I was wrong.
A proud Parish man, during his life he tasted almost every aspect of rugby on this island from serving Shannon RFC as a player when, captained by Michael Noel Ryan, they won their first Munster Senior Cup in season 1959/60. He went on to play with the club for almost two decades and was the first Shannon player to represent his country. As well as being a coach, Brian was involved in various IRFU committees, was manager of the Irish side and the under 21s and devoted much of his career to Munster Rugby.
Munster Rugby President Ger McNamara was among those paying a fitting tribute. “It is with great sadness that I pass on condolences to Brian’s wife Olive, and children Siobhan, Brendan, Aidan, Ronan, Padraic, Maura and the wider O’Brien family, on behalf of everyone in Munster Rugby.”

THE Pinergy Munster Schools Cup competitions dominated the action with three games staged over two days. On Wednesday Ard Scoil Ris qualified for the final of the Junior Cup with a win over Castletroy College. Ard Scoil dominated the opening half and they led 18-0 at the interval. Castletroy found their form after the re-start and there was only six points between the sides at the final whistle. In the other semi-final St Munchin’s College suffered a similar fate as their senior side last week, going out at the hands of PBC. In the Senior Cup replay, Crescent Comprehensive put up a courageous display but went down to CBC by 34 points to 29.

The Munster team has been named for Friday’s sold-out URC Round 15 clash against Scarlets at Musgrave Park (7.35pm).  There are three personnel changes and one positional switch to the side that beat Ospreys two weeks ago. Hooker Diarmuid Barron starts on his 50th Munster appearance as Academy player Patrick Campbell and Calvin Nash also come into the side. World Cup winner RG Snyman is among the replacements after battling back to full fitness following a serious knee injury sustained in October 2021. Snyman is in line for his first appearance at Musgrave Park. Jack Crowley and Keynan Knox also come into the squad as replacements with Academy pair Ethan Coughlan and Mark Donnelly keeping their places on the bench. Pat Campbell, wo has been outstanding on his appearances in the AIL with Young Munster this season, starts at full-back on his 10th appearance of the campaign with Nash returning from injury on the right wing. Daly moves to the left wing having started the Ospreys victory at full-back.
Munster: Patrick Campbell; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Malakai Fekitoa, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Paddy Patterson; Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron, Roman Salanoa; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Mark Donnelly, Keynan Knox, RG Snyman, Alex Kendellen, Ethan Coughlan, Jack Crowley, Jack O’Sullivan.

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