Friday 20 January 2017

No regrets for Kearney as he faces familiar foes of Connacht

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

Mick Kearney of Leinster. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Mick Kearney of Leinster. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

When Mick Kearney watched Connacht lift their first major trophy a year after he left the province, the second-row could have been forgiven for having lingering doubts about the move.

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Kearney lasted just 16 minutes of the Pro12 decider in Murrayfield last May before injury curtailed his involvement, but he doesn't have any regrets about moving back to Leinster.

The Dubliner has had his injury problems but has impressed since returning home.

On Saturday, Leinster get the chance to exact some revenge for the final defeat, and Kearney admitted that his side would be channelling the hurt from last May.

"There's always that bit of edge when you're playing against a group of guys who you spent so many good and bad times with," he said.

"It (regret) wasn't there at all, I made my decision to come to Leinster and I bought into it fully.

"Connacht were definitely the better side on the day. We didn't fire too many shots. Fair dues to them. It was very disappointing from our point of view, and we're going to look to carry that disappointment into this week.

Analysed

"We analysed that game on the first day back. For me anyway, it wasn't too much of a break following the final.

"Losing the final and missing out on the opportunity to win some silverware, I couldn't switch off. I couldn't really enjoy myself. All I wanted to do was get back in and get going again.

"And I know a lot of guys felt the same way. We took a huge amount of learnings from that game and we've adapted those into our system."

Leinster are aiming to prove that lessons have been learned but this is a Connacht side who are arriving in the capital on the back of four straight victories.

Kearney spent four years with Connacht, making 68 appearances, and although he has plenty of happy memories from his time in Galway, all sentiment will be put to one side come 5.15 on Saturday,

"We were definitely caught out in the final last year," the 25-year- old admitted.

"There'll be plenty of analysis done this week. We just felt that we didn't fire too many shots. They played with great width and created one-on-ones. We just need to be more accurate.

"There's some small changes in how they're playing and how they set up.

"For us as a defensive unit, we're definitely going to have to work harder to stop them and that's going to be a huge focus for us this week. We just need to have more energy."

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