Enniscorthy man Josh Murphy put in a huge shift from second row to help Connacht to cause a stirring upset against inter provincial rivals Ulster away in Ravenhill Belfast on Friday night in the URC quarter final…
Like a coal shoveler on a steam train, Murphy worked his socks off in the engine room at no.4 and played as good a game is I have ever seen him play.
Connacht as a whole performed brilliantly and Ulster will not be happy with their performance. Ulster once fancied themselves in years gone by as the traditional rival to Leinster. This notion was gravely upset by Munster’s rise to power in the noughties and now the unthinkable is happening with the Cheeky Westerners being fully awake and in this fixture on Friday night the Connacht men have perhaps relegated for now at least Ulster Rugby to number 4 in Ireland. This can also perhaps be proven in the national teams line up with more Connacht representatives to Ulster players on the team on a regular basis.
Wexford man Josh Murphy was at the beating heart of this stunning victory for the lads from the Sportsground, in what I can only describe as a match that was pure violent and full on warfare akin to a match from the 70’s. Usually when a Wexford man is playing in a top rugby fixture, I’m gently jot down notes for my articles, but I was simply so engrossed in this Gladitorial game that I put the pen down and watched in awe at the hits, both in attack and defence. It was crazy stuff.
Josh was well up for this match like all his colleagues and produced the goods in a barnstorming display. The Enniscorthy man was very efficient in his basics with the lineout working superbly and I do recall that he did indeed steal one or two of Ulster’s lineout throws for good measure.
At over 6 foot 4 inches and 17 stone, Murphy also provided great ballast for the Connacht scrum against a gnarled Ulster forward unit. His size and athleticism suited this particularly brutal match very well as time and time again he destroyed Ulster men in the tackle situation and even took the chance provided to him by rattling a surprised Duane Vermuelen, the former Springbok hardman.
In attack, Josh did extremely well, always up for trucking it up the middle and constantly testing the Ulster defence. On more than a few occasions, it required two Ulstermen to scrag him to the ground which meant Connacht had better attacking opportunities for other forwards on the front foot or outside backs.
It was a performance to remember for the Enniscorthy man and he owes it to himself to back it up against the Stormers away in South Africa this weekend coming. The match will be on Tg4 at 3pm if Wexfordians, especially those from the Ross Road crew in Enniscorthy Rugby Club are interested.
If he performs well, could he jump Kieran Treadwell in the Irish pecking order? Personally, I don’t know and we’ll have to see, but second row in the Ireland camp is actually a spot we could do with some back up options.
Best wishes to Josh in the semi-final.
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