It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Munster with the province working on finalising their squad for next season. Today, Johne Murphy, Duncan Williams and John Ryan confirmed new two-year deals while Marcus Horan and Sean Scanlon penned one-year extensions to their contracts.
Earlier in the week, it was confirmed that Donnacha Ryan, Niall Ronan, Denis Hurley, Billy Holland and Tommy O’Donnell had all agreed to new two-year deals. Meanwhile, Academy players JJ Hanrahan (centre), Dave O’Callaghan (flanker), Luke O’Dea (wing), Cathal Sheridan (scrumhalf) and Alan Cotter (prop) will all move onto Development contracts next season. A Development contract means that the players will be part of the senior squad full-time, just on cheaper wages than a full contract!
O’Callaghan and O’Dea will be familiar to Munster fans, having both impressed for the senior side in fleeting appearances this season. 19-year-old Hanrahan is a player of great potential. Part of the Ireland U20s side playing for a Grand Slam tonight, he is a creative, playmaking 10/12 who competes with confidence and aggression. The Kerry man managed to stand out for the U20s last year too, despite only being 18 at the time.
Scrumhalf Sheridan is a teammate of Hanrahan’s at UL Bohs and is more than ready for the step-up to senior rugby with Munster. Physical and intelligent, the Sligo native would benefit from Tomas O’Leary and Peter Stringer moving on at the end of the season. Sheridan played his underage rugby with Connacht before a move to Limerick allowed him to secure a place in the Munster Academy. The 23-year-old deserves exposure sooner rather than later.
Young Munster prop Alan Cotter is 25, and earned his break with Munster on the back of his form in the AIL over the last few seasons. A regular member of the B&I Cup side, Cotter is a big unit at well over 17 stone. With BJ Botha eventually set to move on from Munster, the management have recognised the need for strength in depth at tighthead and will hope Cotter can step up to the mark.
Munster have made one further addition to next season’s squad in the shape of flanker Sean Dougall. The 22 year-old will join from English Championship side Rotherham Titans, where he is currently involved in promotion play-offs. Dougall has represented Ireland at U18 and U19 (same year as Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony) level. Once with the Ulster Academy, Dougall moved to England in 2007 to join Leeds Carnegie, also of the Championship.
He subsequently spent two years out injured before a trial at Rotherham earned him a shot at reviving his career. Since joining the Titans in 2010, he has excelled at openside, even captaining the side this season with regular skipper Sam Dickinson injured. Dougall has played against Munster ‘A’ in the B&I Cup and may have made a lasting impression then. Not too much else is known about the back-row. Having only signed him to a one-year contract, Munster don’t have too much to lose with this deal.
Watch Dougall on Sky Sports 2 this Sunday at 12, when Rotherham take on Leeds in the Championship play-offs. Follow Dougall on Twitter at @seandougall.
*Have you seen any of these young players in action? How do you rate their chances of breaking into the Munster first-team? Comment below with any insight or opinions on all the contractual goings-on at Munster and the new additions to the senior squad.
Photos courtesy: Ivan O’Riordan, Neil Tunney, Dearbhla Sheridan.
Great to see JJ Hanrahan moving up the ranks, he impressed me with his performances for the Ireland U20s. Also nice to see an Irish tighthead getting a chance. 25 is young enough for a prop, so hopefully Cotter can benefit from the experience of BJ Botha and make a name for himself.