Gordon D’Arcy says Munster must innovate, Darragh Ó Sé on Dublin’s bid for five

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CJ Stander provided physicality for Munster on a day they were outgunned by Leinster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

CJ Stander provided physicality for Munster on a day they were outgunned by Leinster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy reflects on where Munster must go next, after another campaign which has ended without silverware and in semi-final defeat in both the Champions Cup and the Pro14. The province were well beaten by rivals Leinster in the Pro14 semis last weekend, outgunned physically as they fell to a 24-9 defeat at the RDS. Now, writes D’Arcy, it’s time to think outside of the box: “Innovative coaching, as Irish rugby has learned to our enormous benefit under the guidance of Joe Schmidt and more recently Stuart Lancaster, is how Munster start winning trophies again. . . The summer recruitment of two specialist coaches - attack and the pack - is vital for Johann van Graan’s time in charge to be deemed a success.” D’Arcy also looks ahead to this weekend’s Pro14 final at Celtic’s Parkhead, with Leinster looking to end their season on a high before the eyes of the rugby world turn towards Japan. However, it won’t be easy against Dave Rennie’s flying Scots: “Glasgow have a real chance to leave Leinster trophyless. A stellar Johnny Sexton performance can turn that theory to dust. But something special will be needed at Celtic Park.”

Another side in pursuit of glory are Dublin, whose bid for an unprecedented five All-Ireland SFC titles in a row begins in earnest on Saturday night as they take on Louth in Portlaoise. And in his column this morning Darragh Ó Sé suggests Jim Gavin’s side must continue to evolve in order to stay hungry and make history this summer: “So the task for Dublin’s players this summer is to keep finding new ways to improve.” And he pays tribute to Gavin’s ability to keep refreshing his playing panel while continuing to hoover up All-Irelands: “This is why Jim Gavin is so good. Go through his teams year by year and what jumps out at you? The freshness of the whole set-up. Every year, he has a couple of new lads in and a few older faces fall away. The team is getting younger as it’s getting older, if that makes any sense. Gavin has very few sacred cows. Diarmuid Connolly wasn’t one. Bernard Brogan isn’t one. Gavin knows everyone has a sell-by date and you can see he prefers to clear the shelf too early rather than too late.”

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