CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Munster show on-field success key to engaging a region
9:01am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in Sport
"NO offence to the Dragons..." started the Cork taxi driver, uttering that familiar precursor to a statement that is sure to be at least mildly offensive.
He went on to complain about the lack of top class games played at Musgrave Park, an argument backed up by this season's other fixtures being the Scarlets, Edinburgh and Zebre.
All the Heineken Cup games will be at Thomond Park, as will their three RaboDirect Pro12 derby encounters and sexier games against the Ospreys and Glasgow.
"The team's called Munster but we might as well call them Limerick," said the cabbie.
Of course, using taxi drivers as a barometer of public opinion is as wise as going to Nigel Farage for advice on holiday destinations.
But he wasn't the only native of Cork (population just shy of 200,000) to express the feeling of being sidelined as Munster shift themselves towards Limerick (population just over 90,000).
That move is understandable given the salubrious surroundings of Thomond Park, venue of their famous win against the All Blacks and a ground that many casual fans no doubt believe is their only home.
Soon the province will no longer split their training time between the two cities with a new facility at the University of Limerick expected to be up and running in 2015.
It's a situation worth noting given that Munster – a region with genuine history – is held up as an example for Newport Gwent Dragons for the way that everyone buys into what they do.
The province are facing financial difficulties with the redevelopment of Thomond Park to be paid for and a planned refurbishment of Musgrave Park to take place, presumably for political reasons.
When there is pressure on the pockets, streamlining follows and ambitious plans fail to get the stamp of approval.
Munster, whose squad boasts plenty of Cork boys, are seemingly adopting a Limerick-centric stance with the view that success will retain the interest of people from around the region, those that head to the Millennium Stadium for finals or the Stoop or Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin for glamorous knockout clashes.
The Dragons are looking to engage the whole region but there is no harm in doing that while retaining a strong sense of Newport, where the core of the support is from.
On-field success is the key to achieving that - Cork grumblings would not have been as loud when Anthony Foley and Paul O'Connell were lifting Heineken Cups.
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