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How the Murray-ahead-of-Cooney selection went down with Irish fans

By Josh Raisey
John Cooney and Conor Murray (Photos by Getty Images)

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After weeks of campaigning from fans, John Cooney has been named in the Ireland squad to face Scotland this Saturday in the Six Nations. 


The Ulster scrum-half is on the bench for the contest at the Aviva Stadium, which begins a new era under Andy Farrell in Ireland. 

The 29-year-old has arguably been the form player in Europe this season (although Racing 92’s Virimi Vakatawa may have something to say about that), having bounced back from missing out on Ireland’s World Cup squad. 

It would have been an absolute aberration had he not been selected for this match. 

However, the fact that he has only made the bench in a side showing just two changes from the starting XV that beat Scotland at the World Cup has still surprised many. 


Farrell has said that he will pick players based on form, which is more or less accurate when looking at the rest of the squad as it does reflect Leinster’s superiority at the moment. 

While Conor Murray has held onto the Ireland nine shirt for most of the past decade, it would be absurd to suggest he is in better form than Cooney currently. 


The Munster scrum-half’s standard has dropped from the lofty heights of 2018, while his rival is both the Guinness PRO14’s and the Heineken Champions Cup’s top scorer, as well as the second top try-scorer in Europe’s elite competition. 


However, former Ireland international Tommy Bowe has noted that the experience of Murray may prove beneficial with Caelan Doris making his Test debut at No8. 

Additionally, in a game that Farrell will be desperate to win, it is understandable that he has turned to the longstanding partnership between Murray and Jonathan Sexton. 

With 83 Test caps for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, Murray has far more experience than Cooney, who only has eight Ireland caps and only one start. 

But many are expecting Cooney to get a lot of game time against Scotland on Saturday, as he deserves to be given the chance to bring his searing club form into the Test arena.  

WATCH: The Rugby Pod sets the scene ahead of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and reflects on yet more Saracens fallout  

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How the Murray-ahead-of-Cooney selection went down with Irish fans