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Fired up: Dave Kilcoyne knows the importance of the support

Fired up: Dave Kilcoyne knows the importance of the support

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Fired up: Dave Kilcoyne knows the importance of the support

A bit like his ol' mucker Keith Earls, Dave Kilcoyne would be more aware than most of the importance sport has within the community.

Limerick is certainly not an exclusive witness to crime and punishment, as this harrowing week has reminded us.

From Earls' native Moyross to Kilcoyne's home place of Ballinacurra Weston, the latter once the territory of the most notorious drug gangs in the region, the sporting achievements on any given weekend can raise the spirits of a population beaten down by political and economic neglect.​

Green fields can put a smile on concrete jungles.​

Despite the fact that over €300m has been spent on re-generation in these areas, nothing has changed.​

If anything, it has worsened.​

Populations have halved throughout these forgotten lands, while state dependence has increased.​

Rugby has been visited by horror in the past and, before Christmas, the fatal stabbing of a boy beneath the shadows of the sparkling rugby stadium jarred in a big match week.​

Recently, Earls spoke eloquently about how he had to take the road less travelled.​

This squad are conscious of their place, but also keen not to patronise their support.​ This week, for example, the mantra emanating from a bruised and battered HQ is that the players need a performance for themselves first instead of tossing empty platitudes about "doing it for the supporters".

Nonetheless, the repeated references to tickets being sold pre-supposes that every one of them will show up; support may remain steadfast amongst some, but not necessarily amongst all.​

"It's 100% important that we win even if we don't qualify," insisted Kilcoyne as Munster build up to their final home game in Europe against Ospreys on Sunday, and perhaps also their final game of the season in Europe.​

"Even from the weekend, you looked around and there was so much travelling support. I believe there are 19,000 tickets sold for this weekend. That just shows the level of support and what Munster Rugby means to the local community here.​

"I'm from Ballinacurra, I'm from Limerick and I came up wanting to play for Munster. You live and breathe it, you go to school here dreaming of playing for them.​

"When you get involved in it, you see how much it means to your family and the wider circle, so I don't take any convincing of how important this weekend is.​

"I know the city needs a bit of a lift. I thought last week's performance was very good. We didn't get the result we wanted.​

"Hopefully this week we put in a performance and get the result we want."​

Munster are on a road themselves, but the journey is long and winding; few beyond their walls appear to have the sufficient patience to accompany them, as two wins from eight is not a good look.​

"It's not. I suppose I try and look at performance probably more than results. You try and look at the process. Two out of eight isn't good. We have to find solutions now," added Kilcoyne.

Belfast Telegraph