Friday 30 September 2016

Keen to bow out on high in emotional farewell

Ian Costello

Published 06/05/2016 | 02:30

Jerry Flannery in conversation with Dave Foley at training ahead of tomorrow’s game against Scarlets. Photo: Sportsfile
Jerry Flannery in conversation with Dave Foley at training ahead of tomorrow’s game against Scarlets. Photo: Sportsfile

To carve out a positive performance and win with the game hanging in the balance for so long last weekend was very encouraging from us.

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It was nice to get some reward for the amount of work that's been done over the last few weeks. We hadn't transferred that to the scoreboard until now, so to outscore Edinburgh by four tries to one was very satisfying. It is a great way to approach this crucial game.

The difference against Edinburgh was that we took our opportunities really well.

In recent weeks we have created more chances, but taken less of them. Last weekend we scored two fabulous tries from deep. Some of the tries were top class, they showed our skill-set and showed our ambition to play.

In the second half we had to dig deep and absorb a bit of pressure, but we did that well too.

All round there were some encouraging improvements. The signs had been there, but it was good to see it all come together over an 80-minute period.

While the players were on the money, the crowd deserve a huge amount of credit for the result at the weekend too. To have a full stadium after our poor run of results, it just shows the true nature of the Munster supporters.

Supportive

It was overwhelmingly supportive from the very start. Before a ball was kicked there were supporters standing up and applauding us, it was really exciting to be part of that. I'd love to see something similar in Thomond Park tomorrow.

A couple of incidents around the 71st minute typified our performance. We had two errors in a row when Conor Murray missed a penalty to the corner and then Simon Zebo kicked directly into touch, but we reacted really well.

In the next action at their lineout we turned the ball over, so at a time that the game could have got away from us, we won the ball back immediately.

In earlier games, that would have affected us - if a team is low on confidence, it's those mistakes that can catch you out. But we had a 'next job' mentality and the lads shook it off and helped us kick on to the bonus-point win.

While we managed to pick up the win against Edinburgh last week we are still not sure of out spot in the Champions Cup just yet.

If we don't go out tomorrow against Scarlets and perform to the best of our abilities again, we could be in trouble against a very good team. It is vital that we still go all out for the win against the top Welsh side tomorrow.

Scarlets have not been outside the top five all season and they actually led the league for six weeks earlier in the season. In their last four or five games, they haven't been as clinical as they can be but against Dragons at the weekend we saw in the first 25 minutes exactly what they are all about. For that period of time they were untouchable. They scored two fantastic tries and could have had another.

They are very dangerous from broken play so we really have to keep structure to our game. If we kick loosely they'll be very dangerous. They score more than 60pc of their tries from unstructured play.

Tomorrow is a huge game for everyone at the club and it being my last game involved with the province means it'll be pretty emotional for me. I've been involved with Munster senior team for the last six years, and I was with the academy before that.

I have thoroughly enjoyed it, it's been an amazing experience.

I'll miss Thomond Park, I'll miss Irish Independent Park, but I'll especially miss working with the players of such quality and character. They are an exceptional group.

This year has been the toughest of my six. Everybody has felt it the whole way through. I know people have been frustrated, but seeing what happened last weekend in Cork, we all believe there will be big days again in the not too distant future.

I will miss Munster and I'd love to return again someday, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my career.

What's really important to me, is that before I leave, we can secure a Champions Cup place. As disappointed as we all are at how things went this year, at a minimum we need to secure a Champions Cup rugby. I'd love to see that in place before I go.

Irish Independent

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