– 2008/9 season preview –

– 2008/9 season preview –

Club Details
Thomond Park

Stadium Capacity: 26,000 or 16,000 – the larger figure once the rebuilding of Thomond Park is complete
Founded: 1879

Last time around: A third-place finish last season will have been greeted with mixed emotions at Munster. On paper it was not the best result, but given that they won the Heineken Cup for a second time it was not so bad. As is the case with Leinster, Munster paid the price for having so many internationals and struggled at times when they were on duty for their countries. The final game of the season, against Glasgow, marked the end of a long and distinguished career for number eight Anthony Foley.

This time: Once again Munster will be looking to be at the top end of the table come the business end of the season. With their new recruits set to bolster the squad for international periods there is every chance they could push for the title this year. As always they will be competing fiercly on two fronts, as reigning Heineken Cup champions, and will need their full squad to pull off a Magners League and Heineken double. It is yet to be seen if we will see a new approach under a new coach, but one thing is for certain with Munster; they will always be a hard nut to crack.

Coach: With Declan Kidney assuming control of the Ireland national side Munster have turned to Australian Tony McGahan to lead their charge this season. Having spent the last two seasons at Munster as an assistant McGahan is well aware of the unique culture the Irish province has. Further to that he has a close working relationship with the players and will know how to get the best out of them. As for his ability to cut it as the main man only time will tell this season.

Captain: Big Paul O'Connell will lead Munster again this season, when he is not representing Ireland. Known as one of the world's best second rows he has matured into a fine leader and will never fail to lead by example. If anything O'Connell thrives on the captaincy and produces his best rugby when leading the side.

One to watch: Having stormed into the side last year full-back Darragh Hurley is only set to get better this season. As with all players he has weaknesses to work on, but given time in the side he will soon eradicate the little errors we saw from him last year. He is an exciting runner with ball in hand and will benefit from having Doug Howlett in the back-three with him.

Final 2007/08 league position prediction: 2nd

Squad: Tony Buckley, Brian Carney, James Coughlan, Ian Dowling, Keith Earls, Michael Essex, Jerry Flannery, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Doug Howlett, Darragh Hurley, Denis Hurley, Denis Leamy, Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi, Jeremy Manning, Justin Melck, Barry Murphy, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Mick O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary, John O'Sullivan, Mike Prendergast, Federico Pucciariello, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Donnacha Ryan, Tim Ryan, Frank Sheahan, Peter Stringer, Rua Tipoki, David Wallace, Paul Warwick.

Colours: Red (home) Dark Blue (away)

Tickets: Ticket prices range from £4 to £30

Travel connections:

Car: The best option, due to Munster using two stadiums, is to check AA Route Planner before your journey.

Train: Cork Kent train station is the closest train station to Musgrave Park. It is approximately 4.5 kilometres to the stadium. If travelling to Cork by train, pick up a taxi at the station for transport to the Stadium. Thomond Park is 3.1 kilometres from Limerick train station. Many of the trains stop at Limerick Junction train station and a train swap is required.

Bus: Bus Eireann is the national bus operator, with a great service between the major cities and towns throughout the country. There are also private coach operators that have a more limited timetable.

Plane: There are 4 international airports in Munster in order of size: Shannon in the north, Cork in the south, Kerry in the west, and Waterford in the east. Shannon and Cork airports are quite large with lots of carriers and destinations. Kerry and Waterford are regional airports with fewer of both. For matches in Limerick (Thomond Park), Shannon airport is the obvious choice. Similiarly, Cork airport is the obvious choice for matches in Cork (Musgrave Park). Of course, you may have you own reasons for using another airport and good transport links can make for a viable alternative.