Mike O’Halloran: My Dream For JJ Hanrahan

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rsz_mike_ohalloranOur rugby columnist, Mike O’Halloran, believes the dream of seeing JJ Hanrahan in the No.10 of Munster is still possible…just not for a while…

I have been supporting Munster and attending matches in Thomond Park since 1973 and in all those years, I have never experienced the disappointment that Munster fans are airing following the news that JJ Hanrahan is to leave for Northampton Saints at the end of the season.

It reminds me a little of the disappointment and anger felt by Munster fans all those years ago when Munster number 10 Tony Ward was being overlooked by the Irish rugby selectors (yes there were selectors in those days) for Leinster man Ollie Campbell.

Campbell and Ward were vying for the number 10 shirt but on the odd day, both were facilitated with Ward at 10 and Campbell at centre.

The perfect combination you might say but it wasn’t to be (a bit like the bind that JJ found himself in at Munster).

JJ Hanrahan is a gifted number 10 and has hung his hat on being the No.1 ten in Munster.

All of us who followed his progression, dreamed that he would progress to become the outhalf of choice for Munster and from there to the green number 10 shirt.

Are all my dreams in tatters?  More importantly, are JJ’s dreams of ever becoming the top number 10 in Munster in tatters and in turn, progressing to wearing the shamrock number 10?

I have no doubt that he will fulfil all those dreams.

When JJ was starting his journey into the Munster team, his mentor was Ronan O’Gara and with such a mentor one would think that no obstacle would come in the way of his progression into the shirt hung up by O’Gara.

O’Gara, writing in The Irish Examiner is full of praise for JJ and admires his bravery for leaving the club that nurtured him.

O’Gara believes that JJ had no choice but to leave to improve and test himself in one of the top clubs in the English Premiership.

More importantly O’Gara believes that JJ made the decision for rugby reasons and not for monetary gain.

For JJ to leave Munster was surely a great wrench, but to leave with a glowing reference from one of the greatest 10s in world rugby ringing in his ears will surely ease the pain.

Anthony Foley is quoted as being mystified by JJ’s decision to move to a top club to try to wrestle the shirt off Steve Myler in Northampton.

I’m sorry, but there is no mystery about it.

JJ wanted to play at number 10 with Munster, but was  given number 12 the odd day and number 22 and a long warm Adidas jacket most days? No mystery there.

My dream that JJ would be the man at 10 in the ‘three crowns’ jersey is by no means over, but I have modified it slightly: In 2018, just after Ronan O’Gara is unveiled as the new Munster Rugby coach, he announces that he has just re-signed Northampton Saints and European Champions Cup winning outhalf JJ Hanrahan.

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