Brian O’Driscoll Weighs In On Conor Murray-John Cooney Selection Debate

O'Driscoll Murray Cooney

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell will name his first matchday 23 on Tuesday afternoon as his side look to begin the healing process from their disappointing World Cup.

Ireland take on Scotland on Saturday and fans are waiting in anticipation for Farrell’s selection and whether it will contain some of the changes which supporters have been crying out for.

One of the most contentious positions in the side is scrum-half.

Ulster’s John Cooney will be eager to add to his eight caps for Ireland in this Six Nations and many are calling for the Dubliner to be starting considering his superb form for the northern province this season.

Cooney has shown a wide array of skills in his performances for Ulster both in the PRO14 and the Champions Cup. Besides his immaculate goal-kicking, Cooney plays the game at a very fast pace, his passing is accurate, he’s dangerous with ball in hand, he runs excellent support lines and the accuracy of his box-kicks have improved greatly.

However, the man who stands in his way is Ireland stalwart, Conor Murray.

The Limerick man hasn’t been at his best since returning from a neck injury in late 2018 but he has still produced solid if not spectacular performances despite what the comment sections and fan forums may tell you.

His game has been improving this season with Munster with the more rugby he gets under his belt and Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll believes Farrell will opt for the experienced option on the first day out against Scotland.

“Conor [Murray], comparatively to where has been in the last seven or eight years prior to last year, those standard have been significantly higher than this last year but we’re starting to see signs, particularly after last weekend [v Ospreys], of his reemergence.

“Getting that beat back into his game and genuinely, the untangible of that experience and that know-how are very important to Six Nations rugby. I think he’s [Andy Farrell] going to pick Conor and I would pick Conor. I think John Cooney, absolutely I would have him in the 23 on the form that he’s shown.

“He would bring a different tempo, they’re different nines. He would bring a different tempo to the game when he came on. He might get a start or a couple of starts at different times over the course of the Six Nations but I think first up, I would be surprised if he doesn’t go with Johnny [Sexton] and Conor.”


Pictured on his home home turf in Clontarf, Brian O’Driscoll has teamed up with GUINNESS to launch a host of GUINNESS SIX NATIONS experiences which celebrate a fusion of the six competing nations inspired cultures through events available to the public. The first experience on 31st January, will be a hike along the iconic Howth Head followed by a meal in a local pub, hosted by former on field rival rugby internationals, Tommy Bowe and Thom Evans. Those wishing to secure a spot on the hike should email with their name, date of birth and mobile phone number by 23:59 on Tuesday, 28th January. Over 18’s only. For full terms and conditions and further information on ticketing and open to the public details for all experiences, visit

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter