Madigan: I'm eager to parade wares in Wales

Peter Breen

"WHAT can you say?" Ian Madigan offers with a thoughtful pause.

Sometimes words, the 23-year-old has learned, are never enough.

In the hours following one of the most compelling afternoons in Leinster's European odyssey, there were emotions such as pride, relief and delight. But as the days unfolded, Madigan came to realise that these are the moments which can help define the individual and collective character of the group.

Having ground out a victory on what must rank as one of the most intimidating of backyards on the European circuit, it tells you something when a relative rookie can spot areas of improvement.

Basking in glory and sponging plaudits are more summertime pursuits. Especially when there's work to be done.


And for Madigan and Leinster, this week was about refocusing on the job at hand. Being focused, the former Blackrock College out-half reiterated ahead of the trip to Wales tomorrow night, is something which has served the squad well so far and they are determined to build on the foundations which have been laid.

"On the one hand, it's nice that we have a bit of a buffer at the top of the table, and you might get some people commenting that we haven't much to play for this weekend because we have top spot secured. But that's not how we're approaching the Dragons," he said ahead of the trip to Newport.

"Firstly, pulling on the Leinster jersey is a privilege and whoever plays this weekend knows that if you don't put in a strong shift you're going to damage your chances of playing in the last few weeks of the season. Saturday is one of the remaining opportunities and it's up to the players to make it count."

Madigan collected a Heineken Cup medal on that magical weekend in Cardiff last May.

In 23 games so far this year, his reputation has grown with an impressive try-scoring ratio (he has scored seven tries in 19 PRO12 games to date). A fortnight ago, he was awarded the Powerade Young Player of the Year award, and earlier this week he signed a new two-year deal with the province. But though satisfied he is progressing, he refuses to dwell on the past.

"It was a huge honour for me personally to collect that award, especially considering the talent that's coming through the system here at present," he says.

"We're very fortunate that we have top-class coaches here who have helped nurture a strong culture and they're constantly asking questions of the players.

"Personally, I'm really enjoying the season and I was delighted to commit my future to the province because this is where I want to play.

"We're building a strong foundation here and it's exciting to be a part of that. We're away (from home) this week but our hard work over the last few months has helped us secure a home semi-final and that's one of the real pleasures about playing for Leinster.


"The support we get, especially at home, is huge. There's nothing like playing in front of a big crowd in the RDS or the Aviva Stadium.

"You see the thousands who travelled to France last weekend and how they were outnumbered by tens of thousands of supporters but they sang their hearts out for the team from start to finish.

"We're preparing for the final leg of the season. We will look to draw on the self-belief that we showed when the chips were down, like against Northampton in last year's Heineken Cup final as well as against Clermont.

"That mentality is nurtured by approaching each week on a game-by-game mentality.

"It's clear that there are big tasks ahead in the semi-final next week back in the RDS and then in the Heineken Cup final. But we will deal with those games in due course."

As Madigan says, the challenges that await will define the Blues' collective ambition.

The final leg is approaching. The home straight beckons.