Rule of claw forges Munster team spirit
The trip to Perpignan was important on another level: in the aftermath of the game, we forged a deeper bond as team-mates.
Following the game, we were deflated and dejected, bruised and battered. We'd been picked on, beaten up, spat on and bullied. We left the stadium and, as the coach took us to our meal, Deccie informed us that there would be no night out on the town, we would be leaving very early the next morning and would have our recovery in the sea: a quick dip first thing and then off to the airport.
My head was down and I assumed everyone was feeling as low as me.
At times like that, it takes a special kind of man to turn the situation around. Claw is a special one. Deccie had barely finished speaking when Claw stood up, strode up the bus and grabbed the microphone. "We're all going on the piss, as soon as we get back to the hotel."
Jaws dropped in amazement, Deccie's too, but what the Claw said went. So, we all joined him and got stuck into bottles of red wine at the meal -- a lot of wine. Claw was driving everyone on to have a good night out. He wanted to build us into a team.
Deccie and Niallo were doing a fantastic job with us, but Claw brought his own genius to the Munster set-up. He was tough, uncompromising and truly inspirational. Most of us were only young guys in the very early stages of this Munster journey and we all had massive respect for Claw and Gallimh.
And he was right to go against Deccie that night. He realised that, after the kind of defeat and physical beating we took from Perpignan, we had to stick together, get drunk together.
We didn't split up and go out to different clubs or pubs, Tom Tierney and Frankie Sheehan led the charge and we all stuck together in one venue, partied together and got drunk together in one place. Just booze, songs and the men of Munster. And the Claw.