Wednesday 28 September 2016

Anthony Foley hails 'brilliant' Paul O'Connell as fitness fears surround Murray, Zebo and O'Mahony

Published 23/05/2015 | 17:37

23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell checks with concussed teammate Simon Zebo after the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell checks with concussed teammate Simon Zebo after the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Conor Murray is attended to by medical staff for a suspected knee injury during the first half. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Peter O'Mahony, Munster, is tackled by Dan Baker, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Andrew Smith, Munster, is tackled by Scott Baldwin, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell waves to the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell waves to the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell waves to the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell is applauded off the field by the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell waves to the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paul O'Connell acknowledges the Thomond Park crowd after playing his last home game for the club. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Paul O'Connell, Munster, in action against Dan Lydiate, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Peter O'Mahony, Munster, is tackled by Rhys Webb, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Denis Hurley, Munster, is tackled by Josh Matavesi, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Simon Zebo touches down his side's first try of the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Simon Zebo touches down his side's first try of the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates scoring his side's first try with teammate CJ Stander. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates scoring his side's first try with teammate CJ Stander. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates scoring his side's first try with teammate CJ Stander. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Simon Zebo, Munster, celebrates scoring his side's first try of the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Felix Jones, Munster, and Dan Biggar, Ospreys, contest a garryowen. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Ian Keatley kicks a first half penalty. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Denis Hurley, Munster, scores his side's second try of the game despite the tackle of Dan Evans, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Denis Hurley, Munster, scores his side's second try of the game despite the tackle of Dan Evans, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Paul O'Connell, Munster, on the attack against the Ospreys defence. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Paul O'Connell, Munster, is tackled by Dmitri Arhip, right, and Dan Baker, Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paddy Butler scores his side's third try of the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Munster's Paddy Butler scores his side's third try of the game. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Paul O'Connell, Munster, in action against Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2015; Paul O'Connell, Munster, in action against Ospreys. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

MUNSTER are hopeful that the damage to Conor Murray’s knee will not threaten his World Cup preparations after he limped off during the first-half of their narrow win over Ospreys in the Guinness Pro12 semi-finals today.

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Anthony Foley fears the Limerick native has damaged his medial collateral ligament, but is optimistic that the damage is not as bad as first feared.

The coach confirmed that Paul O’Connell has probably played his last game at Thomond Park after the Ireland captain did a lap of honour at the end and conceded himself that this was most likely goodbye.

Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo are facing a race to be fit in time for next week’s final against Glasgow Warriors, while Murray is highly unlikely to make it. O’Mahony was forced off with a recurrence of the hip flexor injury he has been carrying in recent weeks, while Zebo underwent a head injury assessment after a big clash with Jeff Hassler.

“It was a late tackle, there was nothing malicious in it, it’s just the way Lydiate tackles. He jarred  his knee and will be investigated for a MCL. From previous injuries Conor’s had, he’s hopeful it’s not serious,” Foley said of Murray's injury.

Murray.jpg  

Foley said O’Connell’s contribution to the cause had been immense and said a trophy would be a fitting farewell.

“It’s obviously a situation where maybe he’s pulling the pin on it after the World Cup. Paul’s a big boy, he can make his own mind up,” he said.

“He was brilliant, driving people on. He had a constant search for a trophy, we were one win from nine in semi-finals and a lot of our players wouldn’t have a good experience of semis.

“We had a lot of hurt, but we have one foot over the line. Two teams going hard at Kingspan, no one will have won this easy.”

Munster almost suffered late heartache at Thomond as a Nigel Owens ruled Josh Matavesi’s late try out after a Rhys Webb knock on when it appeared the Welsh side had stolen victory at the death.

“We ended up fighting for our lives, for another week in the season. There would be a small bit of disappointment, but the character we showed - it was an incredible effort,” Foley said.

“It was two very good sides playing  a good brand of rugby, for it to go to the wire like that probably sums up the competition.

“The one thing we were questioning was that all of our players stepped back and watched when they saw the ball was knocked on,” he said of the try.

“You’d like to think you’d get a TMO decision at some stage, it was clear their player knocked the ball out of Webb’s hand. We got away with one, we know we’ll have to be better next week.”

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