Girvan Dempsey ready to put faith in emerging talent

Leinster academy products expected to make mark for province during Six Nations

The injury prognosis for Leinster is reasonable as they conclude this segment of the Guinness Pro12 with a game against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night before two Champions Cup outings conclude interest in that tournament for the season.

Luke McGrath had an infected blister on his heel lanced. He was able to attend the Ireland camp at Carton House despite the frustration on missing out on the Connacht match, which he had been due to start.

Mike Ross (torn hamstring) is on schedule to resume playing before the end of January, a week or two ahead of the start of the Six Nations Championship. Isaac Boss (hamstring strain) will be back before his team-mate. Jack Conan (broken foot) is due to return at the beginning of February, while Jonathan Sexton (knee) was replaced during the Connacht match as a precautionary measure.


Leinster backs' coach Girvan Dempsey wasn't able to put an exact figure on the number of his charges that were invited to attend the Irish squad's orientation day for the Six Nations but did confirm that Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier and Luke McGrath were called in, along with the usual suspects, but that Ross Molony wasn't.

He explained: “We not going to miss Ireland players for Friday but it does slightly disrupt the review of the Connacht match. It just condenses the week.”

The players have a day off on Tuesday before returning to training on Wednesday followed by a Captain’s Run on Thursday.

“We have to try to make sure that we up-skill them pretty quickly when they come back in on Wednesday because Tuesday is a day off. They are back in on Wednesday for a full day, leading to a captain’s run on Thursday and then the match on Friday. It’s trying to condense the week. It is a challenge but it’s good to have.”

On the issue of Fergus McFadden’s citing, he said: “It’s tough and it is disruptive having that citing hearing but we’ll wait and see. Fergus has an exemplary disciplinary record in the past. I’ve only seen one footage of it, that’s the TG4 footage; it’s hard from that angle and there might be better ones. The citing officer will have more angles, I’d imagine.”

Dempsey guided Leinster A to two British & Irish Cup titles and a number of those players have already broken into the senior side, while yet more should be given opportunities as the province operates with a depleted squad during the Six Nations.

Tom Daly, Thomas Farrell, Adam Byrne, Cian Kelleher, Billy Dardis, Cathal Marsh, Ross Byrne and Nick McCarthy are just some of the academy backs who’ll be looking for that chance.

Dempsey said: “I think there are a lot of guys in our academy system and development programme who are very capable and it’s them now progressing and taking the opportunity when it arises.

“I think that Josh and Garry and Ross [Molony], all these young kids are learning and it’s showing. If you look back to the World Cup period, that’s when we blooded a lot of guys and they did extremely well for us. So there will be those guys again, plus possibly some more.”

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer