Sherry eyes chance to take on Munster’s European mantle
Published 22/01/2013 | 05:00
Motivation is defined as the inner power that pushes us toward taking action and toward achievements. It is composed of desire and ambition. If they are absent, motivation is absent too.
Munster's Mike Sherry is one of a cabal of younger players in the Munster dressing-room who are fuelled by their desire to achieve, to emulate those who have worn the red jersey before them with distinction and with success.
It's what sustains and drives them – their insatiable hunger to be a part of the elite who have scaled Europe's highest peak.
Their reminders of what Munster have achieved are never far from reference. The walls of Thomond Park are full of photographs of the deeds of those 2006 and 2008 teams, a constant reminder to Sherry and his ilk of the standards they must meet.
A handful of those warriors still own a bit of real estate in the Munster dressing-room. And then there are those who have moved on from the Munster set-up, but remain close by.
"There are some huge footsteps we're trying to fill," said Sherry. "We have constant reminders of what has gone before us. I see Alan Quinlan and Jerry Flannery around Limerick quite a bit.
"And then Paulie, Rog and Donncha O'Callaghan are still in the dressing-room. You chat to them about what they've done before and the work they've done to build up what Munster is.
"For us to add on another layer of that on Sunday is hugely important and we're really proud of what we did.
"What drives us is building on their legacy and enhancing it, if we can. That's a huge motivation for the younger fellas around the squad."
That motivation was used to great effect on Sunday when Munster secured qualification to the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup with a five-try win over Racing Metro. That it was a decade nearly to the day from Munster's famous 'Miracle Match' against Gloucester was, Sherry revealed, uppermost in the players' minds.
"It was like a mini Miracle Match for us. Yes, it was in our minds that we had to do something special and create a bit of Munster history ourselves. Everyone knows about Munster in Europe but they don't know about this group of players coming in, so we really wanted to announce ourselves. We have to take the mantle on now."
Of course any assessment of Munster must be qualified by the reduction of Racing's numbers just six minutes into the contest. That development made Racing's task infinitely more difficult and, conversely, gave Munster a huge boost.
It also played in Munster's favour that Racing travelled below strength with only a handful of their first-team regulars on active duty.
The win was, however, validation for Rob Penney and his coaches. And according to Sherry, the performance was also a way for the players to repay the coaching staff and, indeed, the supporters.
"We felt we owed Rob, Simon (Mannix) and the coaches for the faith they've shown in us. And we owed a lot of the fans. The support we've got in this group has just been incredible – over in Edinburgh, the Saracens game, the Racing game over there. You can't put into words what it means.
"And then the atmosphere (in Thomond on Sunday) was just incredible. I can't describe what it's like playing in that. I can only imagine what it's like for a team coming over.
"I hope we never lose that and I think we repaid (the fans) a small bit on Sunday with this result."
Munster's reward for their win is a quarter-final date with Harlequins in April. The quarter-final fixtures will be confirmed on Thursday, with the game more than likely to be played at The Stoop.
"The Stoop is a great place to play as well, I went over there as a young fella to watch Munster play there," added Sherry. "And if they move the game to a bigger stadium I am sure our supporters will fill it. Wherever we play it isn't a big issue to us.
"We're going away but we'll get a ridiculous following again. The important thing is that we're in the quarter-finals and have that to look forward to in a couple of months."
Meanwhile, Peter Stringer has joined Bath on a short-term loan.
The 35-year-old scrum-half, capped 232 times for Munster, has signed up with the English Premiership side on a similar deal to the one arranged last season with Saracens, but he will be available to Munster, if required, for the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup.