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