Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Leinster's 2017/18 campaign - the writeup of all writeups (literally)

Both of Leinster's last two seasons ended against the Scarlets, albeit under slightly different circumstances.  So to give you a sense of what happened in between the RDS heartbreak in May 2017 and the completion of the #perfectseason last weekend, we've put together a timeline that we're calling 'the writeup of all writeups'.  It's pretty much self-explanatory so let's crack on...


It was a simpler time.  It's not like I thought a Grand Slam, Fourth Star and Fifth Celtic League title were impossible back then, but all three???  Not even on my radar, and I wasn't alone.  Anyway...we kicked off our season of harping with a post looking at Leinster's wider squad and trying to put together an 'ideal matchday 23' based on my perception of the form of the players available.  As you can see, I owe a few players an apology for leaving them out, Rob Kearney in particular...

15 Isa Nacewa 14 James Lowe 13 Garry Ringrose 12 Robbie Henshaw 11 Adam Byrne 10 Johnny Sexton 9 Luke McGrath
1 Jack McGrath 2 Sean Cronin 3 Tadhg Furlong 4 Scott Fardy 5 Devin Toner 6 Sean O’Brien 7 Dan Leavy 8 Jamie Heaslip
16 James Tracy 17 Cian Healy 18 Michael Bent 19 Ross Molony 20 Josh Van Der Flier 21 Jamison Gibson-Park 22 Joey Carbery 23 Rory O’Loughlin

August 11 : Perpignan-42 Leinster-32

After a couple of weeks in the gym, the first Leinster XV of the preseason took to the field at the Stade Aimé Giral.  Since we only got to watch via a Leinster fan holding up their phone using Periscope, we decided against doing a full writeup (so I'll link to the official Leinster site), but despite the defeat it seemed to be a good run out for the young selection.  

PS - point of interest...while James Ryan was involved in Leinster's preseason, as you can see below, he wasn't used against USAP so even that stands to his winning record!

Leinster: J Larmour; A Byrne, J O’Brien, T Daly, I Fitzpatrick; C Marsh, N McCarthy; E Byrne, B Byrne, J Loughman; M Kearney, I Nagle; Josh Murphy, W Connors, M Deegan
Replacements used: P Timmins, N Reid, B Daly, H Keenan, C Rock, O Heffernan, O Dowling, V Abdaladze, S McNulty.

August 18 : Leinster-50 Gloucester-14

"...once again this practice of playing one of Leinster's preseason fixtures in a club ground was a success, as Friday's crowd seemed every bit as large and enthusiastic as that which went to Navan RFC around this time last year."

writeup - 'LOCAL EYES'

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (Jordan Larmour ht); Hugo Keenan, Adam Byrne (Ian Fitzpatrick, 65), Isa Nacewa (capt, Fergus McFadden ht), Dave Kearney (Barry Daly ht); Ross Byrne (Cathal Marsh 60), Jamison Gibson-Park (Charlie Rock 49); Peter Dooley (Ed Byrne 60), Bryan Byrne (Sean McNulty 60), Michael Bent (Vakh Abdaladze 65), Ian Nagle (Mick Kearney ht), Scott Fardy (Oisin Dowling 60), Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy (Will Connors ht), Max Deegan (Oisin Heffernan 72).

August 25 : Leinster-25 Bath-17

"...even when the play was over the far side of the pitch and I needed my trusty binoculars all I could see at every breakdown were blue jerseys adorned with 6, 7 or 8 heavily involved in all that was positive for Leinster."

15. Jordan Larmour / Cathal Marsh 77 14. Fergus McFadden / Adam Byrne ht 13. Jimmy O’Brien / Hugo Keenan 70 12. Conor O’Brien / Fergus McFadden 56 11. Barry Daly / Dave Kearney ht / Ian Fitzpatrick 68 10. Ross Byrne / Joey Carbery ht 9. Jamison Gibson-Park / Nick McCarthy ht
1. Ed Byrne / Vakh Abdaladze ht 2. Rónan Kelleher / Sean Cronin ht 3. Michael Bent / Andrew Porter ht 4. Ross Molony CAPTAIN / Ian Nagle 56 5. Mick Kearney / James Ryan ht 6. Caelan Doris 7. Will Connors / Jordi Murphy ht 8. Max Deegan


Sep 2 : Dragons-16 Leinster-39

"Isa was everything Leinster needed at each moment he was involved.  Crash ball? Grubber past rushing D into their 22? Neat offload? Force a turnover?  Clear out?  Key scrambling tackle? Those are only some of the boxes he ticked on the day. "

writeup - "ISA-CENTRIC"

LEINSTER: R Kearney; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, I Nacewa (capt), J Larmour; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; C Healy, S Cronin, M Bent; D Toner, S Fardy; D Leavy, J Van der Flier, M Deegan.
Replacements: E Byrne for Healy, J Tracy for Cronin, A Porter for Bent (all 50 mins), J Conan for Deegan (55 mins), J Ryan for Toner (59 mins), N McCarthy for Gibson-Park (61 mins), B Daly for Larmour (67 mins), C Marsh for R Byrne (72 mins).

Sep 8 : Leinster-37 Cardiff Blues-9

"Pick a matchday 23 for the province and any team in Europe would be more than happy selecting a 6, 7 and 8 from the players you left out.  It gets to a point where you almost forget to focus on the individuals themselves, yet Conan's display on Friday certainly got your attention."

writeup - "JACK-HAMMER"

LEINSTER:R Kearney (rep: B Daly, 40); A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, I Nacewa (c), J Larmour; R Byrne, L McGrath (McCarthy., ; C Healy (rep: Byrne, 52), J Tracy (rep: Cronin, 52), M Bent (rep: Porter, 52), D Toner, S Fardy (rep: Kearney, 73), R Ruddock (rep: Leavy, 58), J van der Flier, J Conan.

Sep 16 : Southern Kings-10 Leinster-31

"after three rounds we are the only team with 15 points out of 15, we have the second-highest amount of points scored...and we have the best defence.  I'm not using those stats to say we're perfect by any means, but let's just say my starting point has to be with the positives."

writeup - "SHOWING UP"

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Jordan Larmour.

Sep 22 : Cheetahs-38 Leinster-19

"you only need look at the Cheetahs' opening try from William Small-Smith to see how important it is to have an airtight 12/13 channel.  I had hoped Isa starting at 12 would give us that bit of experience and leadership we needed to keep it so, yet...he was forced to leave the field as early as the 17th minute"

Leinster: J Carbery; D Kearney, N Reid, I Nacewa (c) (rep: O’Loughlin, 17), B Daly; R Byrne (rep: Marsh, 74), J Gibson-Park (rep: McCarthy, 61); C Healy (rep: Dooley, 50), J Tracy (rep: Murphy, 56 (rep: Deegan 71)), M Bent (rep: Porter, 50); R Molony, M Kearney (rep: Ruddock, 51); J Murphy (Cronin, 51), J van der Flier, J Conan.

Sep 29 : Leinster-21 Edinburgh-13

"In my preview I highlighted our soft centre for the umpteenth time.  Both Noel Reid and Rory O'Loughlin did some good things in this match but each time they did, it seemed to get cancelled out by something potentially costly moments before or after."

writeup - "COCKERS & MUSCLES"

LEINSTER: J Carbery; F McFadden, R O’Loughlin, N Reid (rep: Larmour, 59), D Kearney; J Sexton (c) (rep: R Byrne, 69), L McGrath (rep: Gibson-Park, 65); J McGrath (rep: B Byrne 59), S Cronin (rep: E Byrne, 59), T Furlong (rep: Porter, 59); D Toner, S Fardy; R Ruddock, J Murphy (rep: Molony, 75), S O’Brien (rep: Deegan, 59).

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of September



Oct 7 : Leinster-23 Munster-17

"The opening six weeks of the new-look league have gone pretty much as expected...much entertainment with much confusion thrown in as well.  But now it's time to step up a gear..."

LEINSTER: 15. Joey Carbery, 14. Adam Byrne, 13. Rory O’Loughlin, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Barry Daly (Fergus McFadden 70′), 10. Johnny Sexton (captain) (Ross Byrne 76′), 9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park 61′); 1. Jack McGrath (Cian Healy 48′), 2. James Tracy (Sean Cronin 48′), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Michael Bent 48′), 4. Devin Toner, 5. Scott Fardy (Ross Molony 69′), 6. Rhys Ruddock (Jordi Murphy 61′), 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.

Oct 14 : Leinster-24 Montpellier-17

"Even if time can't help lighten the load of our injury list, the coaching staff have shown they can make really good use of the resources at hand.  It's a pool that's tough for sure, but not just for us by a long shot."

writeup : "EARLY DOORS"

LEINSTER: 15. Joey Carbery, 14. Adam Byrne, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Isa Nacewa (captain) (Noel Reid 35’), 11. Barry Daly (Fergus McFadden 79’), 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park 63’); 1. Jack McGrath (Cian Healy 47’), 2. James Tracy (Sean Cronin 47’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Michael Bent 63’), 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan (Ross Molony 63’), 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier (Jordi Murphy 63’), 8. Jack Conan.

Oct 21 : Glasgow Warriors-18 Leinster-34

"The pundits were obsessed with the fact that as a team we missed 34 (tackles) against Montpellier's monsters last week, and referred to it every time we missed one this time around.  Yet despite this apparent failing, we somehow managed another bonus point try win, ironically posting 34 points in the process."


LEINSTER: 15. Joey Carbery, 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Noel Reid, 11. Barry Daly (Dave Kearney 41’), 10. Johnny Sexton (Ross Byrne 68’), 9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park 62’); 1. Cian Healy (Jack McGrath 50’), 2. Sean Cronin (James Tracy 50’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Michael Bent 68’), 4. Devin Toner, 5. Scott Fardy (James Ryan 55’), 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier (Dan Leavy 50’), 8. Jack Conan.

Oct 28 : Ulster-10 Leinster-25

"It's not much good calling for the ball if you don't have a plan to do something with it, and it seems that Seanie knew exactly how to exploit the numbers matchup that faced him in the wide channel.  Cool as you like he sets off letting go a pass to Adam Byrne in support at just the right moment"


Leinster:  Rob Kearney;  Adam Byrne,  Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid (Joran Larmour ’2),  Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne (Cathal Marsh ’77), Jamison Gibson-Park (Luke McGrath ’55):  Jack McGrath (Cian Healy ’47), James Tracy (Richardt Strauss ’66), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter ’60), Devin Toner, James Ryan (Ross Molony ’12), Dan Leavy (Jack Conan ’56), Jordi Murphy, Seán O’Brien.

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of October

Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 at the end of October



Nov 3 : Glasgow Warriors-31 Leinster-21

"I'd be more concerned about whether or not we have the versatility in our game to match [or at least counter] the open type of rugby that brought success for Glasgow, Connacht and Scarlets in recent seasons, particularly if our squad goes into the playoffs on the back of tough European and Six Nations campaigns."

writeup : "MARKS OUT OF TEN"

Leinster: Jordan Larmour; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Conor O’Brien ( Hugo Keenan, 72‘), Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne (Cathal Marsh, 72‘), Jamison Gibson-Park ( Nick McCarthy, 51‘); Ed Byrne ( Peter Dooley, 51‘), Seán Cronin (Richardt Strauss, 58‘-64’), Michael Bent ( Andrew Porter, 51‘), Ross Molony (C), Mick Kearney ( Dan Leavy, 35‘), Scott Fardy, Jordi Murphy |(sin bin: 16’-26’, Josh Murphy, 69‘), Max Deegan.

Nov 24Leinster-54 Dragons-10

"From the restart we set up a maul which had us instantly on the front foot...then a pass to Jordan Larmour was a bit high yet he made it work before skipping past flailing tacklers and offloading to a steamrolling Sean Cronin.  Enter Ross Byrne again who plants a perfect kick pass over to the far touchline for McFadden to recover and he has Deegan in support to provide the finish.  An outstanding team try..."


Leinster:  Jordan Larmour, Fergus McFadden Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid; Isa Nacewa (Conor O’Brien ’54); Ross Byrne (Cathal Marsh ’60),.Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy ’55): Ed Byrne (Peter Dooley ’48), Seán Cronin (Richardt Strauss ’48), Michael Bent (Andrew Porter ’49); Ross Molony ((Ian Nagle ’8 (Jack Conan ’67)), Scott Fardy; Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, Max Deegan.

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of November



Dec 2 : Treviso-10 Leinster-36

"There's something about his body language that just exudes confidence - 'I have the ball now and I'm going to make something happen' - and once the early cobwebs were brushed off he was able to back up that swagger to play a large part in his new team bagging a very handy five league points."

writeup : "LOWE AND BEHOLD"

LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Dave Kearney, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Noel Reid, 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Luke McGrath (captain); 1. Jack McGrath, 2. James Tracy, 3. Andrew Porter, 4. Ian Nagle, 5. Scott Fardy, 6. Jordi Murphy, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Ed Byrne, 18. Vakh Abdaladze, 19. Mick Kearney, 20. Max Deegan, 21. Nick McCarthy, 22. Fergus McFadden, 23. Rory O’Loughlin.

Dec 10 : Exeter Chiefs-8 Leinster-18

"Our first European success was largely thanks to the addition to our ranks of another Australian known for wearing six on his back, and while Fardy is a different kind of player, his importance both on and off the pitch for us cannot be overstated.  Having the confidence to trudge through 30- and 40-plus sets of phases needs leadership and he has it to burn. "

writeup : "UN-PHASED"

Leinster: Rob Kearney,  Fergus McFadden , Garry Ringrose,  Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (Jordan Larmour ’72),  Johnny Sexton (Ross Byrne ’71),  Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park):  Cian Healy (Jack McGrath ‘), Sean Cronin (James Tracy ’43) Tadhg Furlong, Michael Bent ’71), Devin Toner,  Scott Fardy (James Ryan ’68);  Rhys Ruddock (Josh van der Flier ’43), Sean O’Brien, Jack Conan.

Dec 16 : Leinster-22 Exeter Chiefs-17

"We badly needed to make the right changes during the break.  Something had to be done differently because the English champions had our number.  And what the Cullen/Lamcaster brains trust pulled out the bag was not only just what we needed to take control of the match, it was once again very similar to what our opposition had been doing to us."

writeup : "HEADS UP RUGBY"

LEINSTER: 15. Rob Kearney; 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Isa Nacewa; 10. Johnny Sexton (Ross Byrne 3’), 9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park 73’); 1. Cian Healy (Jack McGrath 55’), 2. Sean Cronin (James Tracy 55’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter 73’), 4. Devin Toner (James Ryan 55’), 5. Scott Fardy, 6. Sean O’Brien (Dan Leavy 55’), 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.

Dec 26 : Munster-24 Leinster-34

"Leinster have had a couple of stumbles this season it's true, but you can't amass an overall record of 13 wins out of 15 [including 4 from 4 in Europe and doubles over teams like Exeter and Munster] without being well prepared.  I mentioned the stingy defence already and our 34 points didn't put themselves on the scoreboard, but it wasn't just the tactics that impressed on the day, it was the way the 15 men in blue seemed so match ready from the kickoff."

writeup : "...FIGHT LIKE 'L'"

LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Barry Daly (Noel Reid 58’), 13. Rory O’Loughlin, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy 75’); 1. Jack McGrath (captain) (Ed Byrne 40’), 2. James Tracy (Richardt Strauss 66’), 3. Michael Bent (Tadhg Furlong 47’), 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan (Mick Kearney 47’), 6. Jordi Murphy (Josh van der Flier 66’), 7. Dan Leavy, 8. Jack Conan.

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of December


Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 at the end of December



Jan 1 : Leinster-21 Connacht-18

"Tackle counts are stats that should be handled with care, but when someone has a whopping 34 to his name with none missed, they cannot be ignored....Josh (van der Flier) had enough for two on each Connacht player with four left over for the bench...I bet even the subs warming up behind the posts were looking out for a lowered red scrum cap heading towards them."

Leinster:  Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden,  Garry Ringrose,  Noel Reid (Rory O’Loughlin ’61), James Lowe,  Johnny Sexton, Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy ’71): Peter Dooley (Ed Byrne ’50),  Seán Cronin (Bryan Byrne ’64), Andrew Porter (Michael Bent ’50),  Ross Molony,  Ian Nagle (Mick Kearney ’64), Dan Leavy (Scott Fardy ’40), Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan

Jan 6 : Leinster-38 Ulster-7

"Only 53 minutes had elapsed, but this match was over.  Done.  Dusted.  I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like watching as an Ulster fan, especially since only now were they bringing on the likes of John Cooney and Tommy Bowe."

writeup : "COMFORT ZONE"

LEINSTER: Jordan Larmour; Fergus McFadden, Garry Ringrose (Noel Reid ’59), Robbie Henshaw, Barry Daly; Ross Byrne (Johnny Sexton ’58), Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy ’66); Jack McGrath (captain) (Ed Byrne ’58), James Tracy (Seán Cronin ’27), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter ’41); Devin Toner (Mick Kearney ’66), Scott Fardy; Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan (Max Deegan ’61).

Jan 14 : Leinster-55 Glasgow Warriors-19

"The reactions from this match have been everything from 'Leinster are definitely going to win everything' to 'Whoa hold your horses nothing has been won yet' and while I'm way too superstitious for my own views to stray close to the former, I generally get annoyed by the latter as well because it feels like people are trying to take the enjoyment out of a good victory.  I'm a Leinster fan, and Leinster won well, so after all is said and done, I'm happy. "


LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Robbie Henshaw (Rob Kearney 55’), 12. Isa Nacewa (captain), 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (Ross Byrne 50’), 9. Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy 67′); 1. Jack McGrath (Cian Healy 50’), 2. Seán Cronin (Bryan Byrne 58’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter 58’), 4. Devin Toner (James Ryan 63’), 5. Scott Fardy, 6. Jordi Murphy (Dan Leavy 59’), 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Jack Conan.

Jan 20 : Montpellier-14 Leinster-23

"...this really wasn't about individual performances - it was the team effort that stood out, from 1 to 23, and this has been a feature of pretty much all six of our matches in this pool.  Of course we made mistakes and of course we were met with challenges...but I've said it many times before and I'll say it again - we were in a pool with the teams with the best records in ALL THREE top domestic European competitions."

writeup : "SOWING SEEDS"

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney (Joey Carbery ’58); Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Isa Nacewa (captain), James Lowe (Fergus McFadden ’69); Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park (Luke McGrath ’58); Cian Healy (Jack McGrath ’47), Seán Cronin (Bryan Byrne ’66), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter ’66); Devin Toner, James Ryan (Ross Molony ’74); Dan Leavy (Jordi Murphy ’67), Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. 

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of January


Final Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 table

1LEINSTER (#1 seed)68327


Feb 9 : Edinburgh-29 Leinster-24

"The first thing I can say about this match is that it feels more like Leinster lost the game than Edinburgh won.  All of the home side's scores came from mistakes rather than sustained pressure or territory.  The absence of players away on international duty was felt, particularly in defence.  The likes of Sexton, Rob Kearney, Furlong, Leavy, and Conan would have made a difference. "

writeup : "KICK UP THE HOOP"
[writeup by Ciarán Duffy]

Leinster: Dave Kearney (Rep: Adam Byrne 66); Fergus McFadden, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, Barry Daly; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park (Rep: Luke McGrath 59); Peter Dooley (Rep: Ed Byrne 46), Richardt Strauss (C) (Rep: Bryan Byrne 46), Michael Bent, Ross Molony, Scott Fardy, Josh Murphy (Rep: Mick Kearney 71), Will Connors (Rep: Peadar Timmins 66), Max Deegan

Feb 17 : Leinster-20 Scarlets-13

"You can't start talking about this match without first mentioning the Man [-Bun] of the Match himself, James Lowe.  There were just 21 seconds on the clock when he was leaping to grab an exit box kick putting us on the front foot.  He made his part in all three Leinster tries look remarkably easy when they were anything but.  He firmly believes that he's going to make something happen each and every time he touches the ball and who are we to doubt him. "

writeup : "IMPORT-ANCE "

LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Adam Byrne, 13. Rory O’Loughlin (Ciaran Frawley 13’), 12. Noel Reid, 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne (Barry Daly 70′), 9. Luke McGrath (captain) (Nick McCarthy 49’); 1. Ed Byrne (Peter Dooley 56’), 2. Sean Cronin (Richardt Strauss 56’), 3. Michael Bent (Oisin Heffernan 74′), 4. Ross Molony, 5. Scott Fardy, 6. Josh Murphy (Ian Nagle 64’), 7. Jordi Murphy (Will Connors 74′), 8. Max Deegan.

Feb 23 : Leinster-64 Southern Kings-7

"...for Friday night's match at the RDS you possibly had two from the furthest extremes of the scale - Leinster, who have a squad and overall set-up that are the envy of most in Europe, against the Southern Kings, who had about five minutes to prepare for this competition while also having to cough up some players their union wanted to keep under their umbrella."

writeup : "KINGS RANSOM"
einster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 5 James Ryan, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Ed Byrne.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Josh van der Flier, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Jordan Larmour.

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of February



Mar 9 : Scarlets-10 Leinster-10

"Absolutely everything about this match was less than ideal - the timing, the squads to choose from, the conditions, and most of all, the decision-making and that's not just a pop at the officials - the players weren't great at it either."

writeup : "STALE, MATE"

LEINSTER: D Kearney; B Daly, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, J Lowe; R Byrne, N McCarthy; E Byrne, B Byrne, M Bent; R Molony, S Fardy; Josh Murphy, S O’Brien (capt), J Conan.
Replacements: M Deegan for O’Brien (27 mins), M Kearney for Murphy (64), J Tracy for B Byrne (69), A Byrne for Daly (74).

Mar 9 : Ospreys 32-18 Leinster

"I actually wouldn't feel so badly about the concession of 32 points if we had managed more on our side of the scoreboard, but I reckon we should consider ourselves lucky to have gotten as many as 18 - we were way below par with the ball."

writeup : "WAKEY WAKEY"

Leinster: J Carbery; F McFadden (A Byrne 16), R O’Loughlin, N Reid (D Kearney 23, J Gibson-Park 34), B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath (captain); J McGrath (E Byrne 46), S Cronin (J Tracy 50), A Porter (M Bent 50), R Molony, S Fardy, J Murphy (M Deegan 54), J Murphy, J Conan (I Nagle 64)

Mar 17 : Ireland win the Grand Slam

We'll do a similar post for the Irish team after the series in Australia, but we reckon this particular date should be included in this timeline too.

Guinness Pro14 Conference B at the end of March



Apr 1 : Leinster-30 Saracens-19

"James Ryan...17 tackles, none missed, a big part of our perfect 8 for 8 in lineouts and most of all, exceptional ability in the loose; for Leavy's try, his deft little 'one two' that opened up the gap was something you'd expect from a 9 and 10 not a 5 and 7!!!"


LEINSTER: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Isa Nacewa (Rory O’Loughlin 79′), 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (Joey Carbery 68’), 9. Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy 65’); 1. Cian Healy (Jack McGrath 53’), 2. Seán Cronin (James Tracy 60’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter 65’), 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan, 6. Scott Fardy (Rhys Ruddock 65’), 7. Dan Leavy, 8. Jordi Murphy (Max Deegan 79′)

Apr 7 : Leinster-41 Zebre-6

"...rugby fandom isn't really about how much jargon you know; it's more of a spectrum, with those of us who would gladly tell you the name of the sub hooker for Leinster in a Celtic League match played in Donnybrook way back in the day at one end, and those who just love donning the blue and shouting 'LEIN-STER! LEIN-STER!' at the RDS every chance they get at the other.  And the important thing to remember is the game needs all of them equally."

writeup : "THESE DAYS"

LEINSTER: 15. Barry Daly, 14. Adam Byrne, 13. Rory O’Loughlin (Gavin Mullin 67’), 12. Conor O’Brien (Ciaran Frawley 67’), 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy 62’); 1. Cian Healy (Peter Dooley 55’), 2. James Tracy (Bryan Byrne 55’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Vakh Abdaladze 55’), 4. Devin Toner (captain) (Ross Molony 62’), 5. Mick Kearney, 6. Josh Murphy, 7. Dan Leavy (Peadar Timmins 62’), 8. Max Deegan.

Apr 14 : Leinster-15 Benetton-17

"A greater concern would be Joey Carbery...with Ross Byrne knocking on the door at higher levels, Cathal Marsh remaining on the fringes and the likes of Ciaran Frawley and Harry Byrne waiting in the wings, methinks our outhalf pecking order is something that needs to be crystallised sooner rather than later."

writeup : "BEN-ISSIMO"

LEINSTER: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Fergus McFadden (Ross Byrne 62’), 13. Rory O’Loughlin (Noel Reid 52’), 12. Noel Reid, 11. Barry Daly, 10. Joey Carbery, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park (Nick McCarthy 62’); 1. Jack McGrath (captain) (Ed Byrne 62’), 2. Richardt Strauss (James Tracy 51’), 3. Andrew Porter (Michael Bent 62’), 4. Ross Molony, 5. Ian Nagle (Mick Kearney 66′), 6. Jordi Murphy, 7. Seán O’Brien (Peadar Timmins 40’), 8. Max Deegan.

Apr 21 : Leinster-38 Scarlets-16

"Sorry for bringing up last Saturday's defeat to Benetton, but I only do so to demonstrate the gulf in class between the two different versions of Leinster, as if our European jersey is some kind of 'supersuit' designed by Tony 'Iron Man' Stark from the Marvel Comics universe."

writeup : "UP FOR IT"

Leinster: R Kearney; F McFadden (J Larmour 41), G Ringrose, R Henshaw, I Nacewa; J Sexton (J Carberry 62), J Gibson-Park (N McCarthy 71); C Healy (J McGrath 52), S Cronin (J Tracy 57), T Furlong (A Porter 61), D Toner, J Ryan (R Molony 71), S Fardy, D Leavy (J Conan 66), J Murphy.
Scarlets: R Patchell; L Halfpenny, S Williams (S Hughes 74), H Parkes, S Evans; D Jones, G Davies (A Davies 71), R Evans (D Evans 74), K Owens (R Elias 52), S Lee (W Kruger 52), T Beirne, D Bulbring (L Rawlins 54), A Shingler (S Cummins 67), J Davies, J Barclay (W Boyde 71).

Apr 28 : Connacht-47 Leinster-10

"I saw the phrase 'we have bigger fish to fry' bandied about quite a bit from Leinster fans on social media after the match...that's all well and good but those fish are harder to fry when a supposedly smaller one has just hopped out of the pan and whacked you over the head with it!"

writeup : "#THANKSMUL"

Leinster: Joey Carbery, Barry Daly, Tom Daly (Jordan Larmour ’54), Noel Reid, James Lowe, Ross Byrne (Adam Byrne 69) Nick McCarthy (Jamison Gibson-Park ’51): Jack McGrath (Cian Healy ’51), James Tracy (Sean Cronin ’51) Andrew Porter (Michael Bent ’51), Ross Molony, Mick Kearney, Max Deegan (Caelan Doris ’64), Peadar Timmins, Jack Conan

Guinness Pro 14 Conference B final table



May 12 : LEINSTER-15 RACING 92-12

"I should have been absolutely shattered watching those phases develop as they got closer and closer to drop goal range.  I should have been anxious about every Leinster tackle, every Leinster engagement after the tackle...screw that...every Leinster intake of breath for fear of Wayne Barnes giving Racing a shot at taking us into extra time...It's almost like I knew.  It's almost like it was meant to be."

writeup : "MEANT TO BE"

Leinster: R Kearney; Larmour, G Ringrose, Henshaw, Nacewa; Sexton, L McGrath; Healy, Cronin, Furlong, Toner, Ryan, Fardy, Leavy, J Murphy.
Replacements: Gibson-Park for L. McGrath (62), J McGrath for Healy (55), Tracy for Cronin (62), Porter for Furlong (66), Conan for J Murphy (62).
Not Used: Ruddock, Carbery, O'Loughlin.

May 19 : Leinster-16 Munster-15

"On Saturday at the RDS, the two biggest rivals in the competition locked horns and for the second week in a row, Leinster found a way to be ahead, first when the new-to-this-league hooter sounded, and also when the final whistle eventually sounded.  But what a contest it was, and Munster will certainly feel they had plenty of opportunities to win.

writeup : "BATTLE ROYALE"

LEINSTER: Joey Carbery; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Isa Nacewa (captain) (Rory O’Loughlin ‘HT), James Lowe; Ross Byrne (HIA – Barry Daly ’37 to ‘HT), Luke McGrath (Nick McCarthy ’76); Jack McGrath (Cian Healy ’47), Seán Cronin (James Tracy ’56), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter ’56); Devin Toner, James Ryan; Rhys Ruddock (Scott Fardy ’63), Jordi Murphy (Max Deegan ’79), Jack Conan.


"Technically, this trophy is the least important of those we have been celebrating here at Harpin Manor since St Patrick's Day, yet coming as it did at the end of a long Northern Hemisphere season, it is probably the most significant...I couldn't have asked for a more perfect end to the 2017/18 campaign.  What say we do it all again next year? "

writeup : "#PERFECTSEASON"

Leinster: R Kearney; J Larmour, G Ringrose, I Nacewa (capt), J Lowe; J Sexton, L McGrath; C Healy, S Cronin, T Furlong; D Toner, J Ryan; R Ruddock, D Leavy, J Conan.
Replacements: J Tracey, J McGrath, A Porter, S Fardy, J Murphy, N McCarthy, J Carberry, R O'Loughlin.

So there you have it...if you've enjoyed following this timeline half as much as I enjoyed putting it together, then it was worthwhile.  

Many thanks to all who read, commented on, liked and shared our writeups throughout the year, and also to the contributors who helped keep the content ticking over.  

Next up here at Harpin Manor...the Tour Down Under, a new weekly feature, a break in July, and our 10th anniversary celebrations in August before we're back at the regular Harpin again for the 2018/19 campaign.  In other words, plenty to look forward to!  JLP


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019