John Cooney comes to defence of JJ Hanrahan after kicking criticism 2 years ago

John Cooney comes to defence of JJ Hanrahan after kicking criticism

"I think it's the first time I've ever been up for Munster in a rugby game!"

Munster supporters were not the only ones gutted to see JJ Hanrahan and his teammates falling short against Leinster, on Saturday. With Ulster aiming to top Conference A in the Guinness PRO14, their players and fans were hoping for a favour from the men in red.


As it turned out, a late piece of magic from Ross Byrne, Hugo Keenan and Jordan Larmour broke Munster hearts and gave the league champions another big win in Limerick. Following the game, in which he missed two penalty attempts, Munster outhalf JJ Hanrahan was subject to some unnecessary and over the top flak.

On the latest House of Rugby Ireland episode, Ulster star John Cooney (LISTEN from 1:15 below) made a passionate defence of the Munster star, and reminded supporters of all Hanrahan has done in recent years.

Listen to the full John Cooney interview here, and hear about a big call he feels should have went Munster's way:


JJ Hanrahan has been a consistent goal-kicker in terms of his scoring percentage, but he has missed a couple in big games. (Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile)

Hanrahan missed a long-range effort at the end of the first half and another around 10 minutes into the second half. As Munster lost by only three points, he was subjected to some harsh criticism, in some quarters and online.


"I actually would have been in defence of JJ missing that kick," John Cooney told Eimear Considine. "I've missed that kick about three times, maybe, over the last couple of years and, personally, it's a bit of a bogey kick. It's just slightly to your right and if you don't commit to it, you can easily miss it.

"I missed a similar kick in a European Cup quarter final against Leinster. I've messaged JJ in the past saying, 'Keep the head up' because it is difficult.

"And I think you're right. People forget about the penalty that Rhys Marshall gave away or the other penalty (Munster) gave away for offside, and they put all the blame on JJ. I would have been straight on to defend him if they had gone after him. I'd have gone online to defend him, had I known, because the kickers don't lose games, and they don't win games as well... I felt bad for him after that, as I think he's probably up there as possibly the best kicker in the country."

"The people that are giving him the blame seem to forget how well he has kicked all year, and how well he kicked last year," Cooney added.

Also on House of Rugby Ireland, this week:

  • The best, and craziest, pre-match rituals and superstitions
  • James Ryan is back after an incredible performance in Limerick
  • Irish players that are hitting peak form in time for the Guinness Six Nations
  • John Cooney on sports psychology, coping with set-backs and targeting trophies with Ulster