THERE’S NOTHING WRONG with getting the job done early, but it’s the late heroics that have further underlined the enormous potential of Munster’s JJ Hanrahan.
The Kerry out-half delivered a magical sidestep to get Munster out of a Heineken Cup hole against Perpignan last weekend. And last night he turned provider, sending an 84th minute cross-kick into the path of Ronan O’Mahony to deliver a 16 -10 win over Llanelli Scarlets.
Munster have never been ones to roll over easily, of course, but fans of the southern province are being given great heart by ‘mental fortitude’ (as Rob Penney might put it) of the new generation plying their trade at Musgrave and Thomond Park.
“We always say that you’re never beaten ’til the final whistle goes,” Hanrahan told TG4 as he collected the man-of-the-match award.
“Every opportunity you have until the whistle’s gone you’re going to keep going, keep going to the bitter end.
“I think it comes from competition in the squad. everyone is trying to impress. You’re letting the boys down if you don’t keep going until the final whistle.”
Hanrahan knows all about that competition for places as he faces an ongoing battle for the Munster number 10 shirt with Ian Keatley. Despite being many fans’ favourite for the role, Penney continues to view the more experienced Dubliner as the best man for the job.
Hanrahan kicked 11 of Munster’s points. He missed two penalties, but more than appeased the Musgrave Park crowd with the late assist. However, the 21-year-old quickly shifted the praise off of his own shoulders and onto those of Duncan Williams, who made the score possible by finding the gap left by the 13-man Scarlets and off-loading to Barry O’Mahony just when the hosts appeared to have hit the wall.
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“We definitely made a meal of it. Thanks be to God Duncan Williams got that break at the end to relieve the pressure – they were coming hard at me for the drop-goal and left a little gap there for Duncan, he took it brilliantly.
“O’Mahony got on the end of [the break] and we were just lucky to get away with it. We didn’t perform really. Lucky to get out of this one alive, but that’s what it is I suppose: win and playing ugly is better than losing, any day.
“We’ll take it.”