Friday 28 April 2017

Let's mark Muldoon milestone in fitting style

Connacht will hope to celebrate John Muldoon’s significant milestone with victory over Leinster tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht will hope to celebrate John Muldoon’s significant milestone with victory over Leinster tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Pat Lam

It has been six weeks since our last home game so it's fantastic to be back at the Sportsground for a sell-out inter-provincial clash with Leinster tomorrow night.

It's been a tough few weeks on the road but we've had a good week's training and are really looking forward to running out in front of our home support.

We were very pleased to get the win against Edinburgh at Myreside last weekend. I was especially pleased for the boys. I see the work that they constantly put in and the disappointment when we miss out in games we know we could have won.

Edinburgh are always a hard team to face away from home but we felt we were in control throughout the game, even if it was a bit tight towards the end.

We highlighted plenty of missed opportunities in the review as well as the cost of coming out of our own structure.

We have changes within the team and guys learning the game-plan so mistakes at times are understandable but we know we need to be more ruthless, particularly with our next three games coming against teams sitting in the top four of the Guinness Pro12 table.

Regardless of what happens now, we have a play-off place secured and it's up to us to finish as high up the table as we possibly can from here on out. We have a great opportunity to challenge ourselves against three of the top four teams - Leinster, Ospreys and Munster.

Leinster are in a great place, flying high in the Champions Cup as well as the Pro12.

Humming

We're coming up against a team that are humming so it's certainly exciting for us.

We know what they are capable of no matter who they put out on the pitch and it's up to us to nullify their attacking threats. We have a game-plan in place that we believe can overcome them but we know it will take a huge team effort to get us over the line.

It's all about how well we prepare for the game this week. Everything that's gone before doesn't come in to play when you're looking at the next game.

We can look at the final in May or the game in the RDS in October but really we need to be focused on the here and now and what we need to do to beat Leinster tomorrow.

We've had a good look at them, like we do with all opposition, and we have absolute clarity of what we need to do as a team.

That breaks down to what the forwards need to do, what the backs need to do and what each individual needs to bring to the game ensuring that they are clear on their jobs.

The thing I love about our game is that we are still creating opportunities to score. But it comes down to whether we are taking them or not.

Obviously that affects selection and how we approach one week from the other. But after four years, the process remains the same win or lose and that gives us confidence in the work we are doing.

John Muldoon will play his 300th game for Connacht tomorrow night which is a monumental achievement.

While he'll just get on with the job at hand, we're all really pleased for him and his family that he's reached this milestone.

It's remarkable what he's done in his career, and I don't believe many players will do it again. It's particularly impressive when you consider the position he plays in and the amount of minutes and games he's racked up already this season - his 14th at the club.

I think the biggest thing is that the person became the rugby player and then the captain. As an organisation and a team, we talk about 'The Connacht Man' being a team man, hard-working, respected, resilient and tough. John is the epitome of those traits.

It's what the boys enjoy following and it's what we all respect. I hope it's a really enjoyable occasion for him marked with a win at home over Leinster.

I'd like to wish everyone a very happy Easter and an enjoyable long weekend with family and friends!

Irish Independent

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