The Munster senior squad will be boosted by the addition of nine Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players next season.
Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Jake Flannery, James French, Seán French, Ben Healy, John Hodnett and Josh Wycherley have all earned their first senior contracts.
Academy products are set to make up two-thirds of the 2021/22 Munster squad, the highest representation of academy graduates in over eight years.
Find out more about the nine newcomers below.
Age: 21 (22/02/2000)
Did you know? Ahern was a back three player until converting to a lock in his late-teens at the start of 2017.
Waterford native Thomas Ahern signed a two-year contract having completed three years in the Academy.
He is a product of Youghal RFC, Dungarvan RFC and Waterpark RFC and played a standout role in Ireland’s U20 campaign last year.
Having made his senior debut against the Dragons at the age of 20 in November 2020, Ahern scored his first senior try for the province in his first start against Zebre later that month.
Ahern and 20-year-old Cian Hurley became Munster’s youngest starting second row combination in the professional era against Benetton in March 2021.
Age: 21 (13/01/2000)
Did you know? Crowley played much of his underage rugby at scrum-half before moving to no.10.
Jack Crowley signed a two-year contract after completing one year in the Academy.
A product of Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar, the out-half starred for the Ireland U20s in 2020, scoring 36 points in three games as Ireland clinched the Triple Crown before the campaign was cut short.
Crowley made his senior debut against Ulster in Belfast in January and followed that up with his second appearance against the Scarlets in March.
Named the AIL’s Rising Star for his performances with Cork Constitution in the 2019/20 campaign, Crowley impressed for the Ireland 7s team at the International Rugby 7s tournament last weekend.
Age: 23 (12/08/1998)
Did you know? Daly started out at Castleisland RFC, a club which has produced the likes of JJ Hanrahan, Ciara Griffin and Siobhán Fleming.
Kerry native Jack Daly signed a one-year contract having completed three years in the Academy.
The flanker has been a regular for Munster A and Garryowen over the past three seasons having worked his way up through the provincial underage ranks at U18, U19 and U20 levels.
Daly has represented Ireland at Sevens and U20s level and made his senior debut against Zebre in November before following that up with his second appearance against Benetton in March.
Age: 21 (07/06/1999)
Did you know? Jake and younger brother Alan lined out together for Munster A earlier this season. Jake has also represented Tipperary in Gaelic Football at minor level.
Jake Flannery, who can operate at both out-half and full-back, signed a one-year contract after two years in the Academy.
The Tipperary native made his senior Munster debut against Zebre during the 2019/20 season and followed that up with two further appearances this campaign, including his first start against Benetton.
Flannery came through the Munster pathway at first with Kilfeacle & District RFC before playing schools rugby with Rockwell College.
He was a standout performer in the Ireland U20s Grand Slam triumph in 2019.
Age: 22 (22/11/1998)
Did you know? James was an All-Ireland schoolboy shot put champion.
Prop James French signed a one-year deal after spending three years in the Academy.
A product of Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar, French has represented Munster at U18s, U19s and U20s level.
On the international stage, he has worn the green jersey at U19s and U20s level which included five appearances during the 2018 U20s Six Nations.
French plays his AIL rugby with UCC.
Age: 21 (14/08/1999)
Did you know? French scored all 11 of PBC’s points (a try and two penalties) in their 2017 Munster Schools Senior Cup final victory over Glenstal Abbey.
Seán French signed a one-year deal after three years in the Academy.
A try-scoring Munster debut against Zebre in December saw French make his mark with the senior side having impressed for Cork Constitution in the AIL over the past number of seasons.
The UCC student was a Munster Schools Senior Cup winner in 2017 with PBC and won the Grand Slam with Ireland U20s in 2019.
Age: 21 (29/06/1999)
Did you know? Ben Healy captained Glenstal Abbey to their first-ever Munster Schools Senior Cup title in 2018.
Ben Healy signed a one-year contract after three years in the Academy.
It has been a real breakthrough season for Healy with the out-half making 17 senior appearances having played three PRO14 matches the previous campaign.
The Tipperary native is a product of Nenagh Ormond and Glenstal Abbey and plays his AIL rugby with Garryowen.
Healy won the Grand Slam with the Ireland U20s in 2019.
Age: 22 (10/01/1999)
Did you know? Hodnett has represented Cork in Gaelic Football at underage level.
John Hodnett signed a two-year contract after two years in the Academy.
Marked his Munster debut against Southern Kings in February 2020 with a Man of the Match performance and enjoyed a good start to this campaign before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury.
The Rosscarbery native is a product of Clonakilty RFC and play his AIL rugby with UCC.
The back-row forward produced some excellent performances for the Ireland U20s during the Grand Slam title win in 2019 and subsequent World Championships in Argentina.
Age: 21 (22/07/1999)
Did you know? Josh’s father Florence was one of the founders of Bantry Bay RFC’s underage section that has produced two Munster players – Josh and brother Fineen.
Josh Wycherley signed a two-year contract after three years in the Academy.
This season has been a breakthrough year with the loosehead prop making nine appearances so far this season.
A product of Bantry Bay RFC and Cistercian College Roscrea, he earned his first European start against Clermont Auvergne in December, playing a starring role in the province’s comeback victory.
The 21-year-old featured for Ireland U20 during the Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign in 2019.
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Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Bayonne At Thomond
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s Investec Champions Cup opener against Bayonne at Thomond Park (5.30pm).
Buy match tickets here.
Jean Kleyn will be unavailable until the New Year due to an eye injury suffered in the Leinster match. He attended for a specialist review last Tuesday and Wednesday and will have further follow-up before Christmas.
Jack Daly (ankle) and Liam Coombes (shoulder) both underwent surgery last week and will begin rehabilitation under the medical department.
There is good news for Patrick Campbell (ankle) as he has returned to team training.
Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will also return to training this week.
Simon Zebo (knee) will continue to rehabilitate early this week.
The availability of Campbell, O’Donoghue and Zebo will be determined later in the week.
Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) is improving but will remain unavailable for the Bayonne clash.
Continuing to rehab: Jack Daly (ankle), Peter O’Mahony (shoulder), Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
There were 11 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Fionn Gibbons, Chris Moore and Keynan Knox helped Young Munster to a win over City of Armagh with Gibbons among the tries.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten away to Terenure College.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver, George Hadden and Colm Hogan helped Garryowen beat Blackrock College with Hogan scoring a try on his debut for the club. Oliver also kicked three conversions and two penalties.
Jack O’Sullivan and Ben O’Connor featured for UCC as they were narrowly beaten by Old Wesley.
In Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemians to a draw against MU Barnhall.
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Peter O’Mahony Steps Down After Over 10 Years As Munster Captain
Munster Rugby can confirm that Peter O’Mahony has made the decision to step down as squad captain after over 10 years leading the province.
O’Mahony first captained Munster in a competitive game on September 3, 2011 at the age of 21. It was just his 12th appearance for the province and he led the side for the opening five games of that season.
He took over the Munster captaincy on a permanent basis ahead of the 2013/14 season following the departure of Doug Howlett.
The 2022/23 season was O’Mahony’s 10th year as squad captain and ended with glory in Cape Town as he lifted the URC title with Keith Earls after a thrilling win over the Stormers.
Along with captaining Munster, he has also led Ireland and the British & Irish Lions.
Head Coach Graham Rowntree and the coaching team will select a new squad captain in due course.
Peter O’Mahony said: “Captaining Munster has been a dream come true for me.
“I grew up watching and idolising the Munster team and in particular the people who were leading the team.
“People like Mick Galwey, Jim Williams then on to the likes of ROG and Paul, who I had the privilege of playing with at the start of my career.
“I can remember the day I was asked to be captain like it was yesterday and discussing it with Paul to get his approval.
“From that day to this it’s been an utter privilege and has never been something I’ve taken for granted.
“However, having given a huge amount of thought to it, I think it is the right time to step back from the role to share my experiences and give the same guidance that I received when I took on the role.
“What an unbelievable honour it has been…and will always continue to be.”
Paying tribute to O’Mahony’s over 10 years as captain, Rowntree said: “You couldn’t pick a better leader than Pete and he has been a fantastic captain for this club.
“To lead Munster from such a young age and for so many years speaks volumes of his ability as a player on the pitch and a person off it.
“He commands huge respect and will still be a massive leader within the group. To have someone of Pete’s experience on hand to help us with the succession process is invaluable.
“We have a strong leadership group within the squad and will confirm a new squad captain in due course.”
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Squad Update | Munster Prepare For Leinster In Dublin
The Munster squad are preparing at the HPC ahead of Saturday’s URC round 6 clash against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium (6.30pm, live on TG4).
Our next home game is against Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park on Friday, December 1 (7.35pm). Buy match tickets here.
Following Saturday’s win over Stormers, Peter O’Mahony (shoulder) and Jack O’Donoghue (ankle) will both go for scans on their respective injuries.
Diarmuid Barron has progressed through the return to play protocols and will be available for selection.
Continuing to rehab: Liam Coombes (shoulder), RG Snyman (chest/shoulder), Joey Carbery (wrist), Patrick Campbell (ankle), Roman Salanoa (knee), Mike Haley (hip), Cian Hurley (ankle/achilles), Niall Scannell (groin).
On the AIL front, there were nine Munster players in action for their clubs at the weekend.
In Division 1A, Keynan Knox and Fionn Gibbons helped Young Munster to a win over Terenure College at Tom Clifford Park.
Ethan Coughlan and Daniel Okeke were in action for Shannon as they were beaten by Lansdowne in Dublin.
In Division 1B, Jack Oliver and George Hadden lined out for Garryowen as they were beaten by St Mary’s College with Oliver kicking a conversion and a penalty.
Jack O’Sullivan was a try-scorer for UCC with Ben O’Connor also starting as they beat Queen’s University at the Mardyke.
In Division 1B, Evan O’Connell helped UL Bohemian to a 16-12 victory over Ballymena at Annacotty.
URC Round 7: Friday, December 1
Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 1: Saturday, December 9
Munster Rugby v Bayonne, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 8: Tuesday, December 26
Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
Champions Cup Round 4: Saturday, January 20
Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 5.30pm; Buy tickets here
Saturday, February 3
Munster Rugby v Crusaders, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 5pm; Buy final tickets here
URC Round 11: Friday, March 1
Munster v Zebre Parma, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 13: Saturday, March 30
Munster v Cardiff Rugby, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 16: Saturday, May 11
Munster v Connacht, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
URC Round 18: Saturday, June 1
Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here
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