O'Connell: Early mistakes cost us dearly

Des Berry

ULSTER made 159 tackles to humble Munster 22-16 at Thomond Park and make the Heineken Cup semi-finals for the first time since they won the competition in 1999.

This simple statistic defined their heroic effort, moving out to a 19-0 lead only to be forced onto the back-foot from where they found the deep desire to consign Munster to their second ever defeat at Thomond Park in the European Cup.

Munster captain Paul O'Connell was blunt in his reaction: "We conceded 19 points in I don't know how many minutes early on. We gave ourselves a massive hill to climb.

"We probably had enough possession to climb that hill. But, we just didn't do enough with it.

"We weren't accurate enough when we had the ball. The quality of player is there. Maybe, that Heineken Cup nous isn't there.

"You've got to be miserly with the ball and that means making less mistakes.

"We made a lot of mistakes, conceded territory and momentum with it," added the veteran Irish international.

The decision to dethrone Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin is looking increasingly dodgy, given how the players have responded to his reign.


He was sacked in the middle of turning back the pages of history.

"It was our defence really. As a team, we were outstanding in that area," said Stephen Ferris, while shrugging off suggestions he played through injury. "We got off to a terrific start, Ruan (Pienaar) kicking penalties.

"When the Munster boys started coming at us, the crowd got behind them. We knew it was going to be a long afternoon for us.

"It was something we talked about at the start of the season - taking another step forward. We feel we've got the team. We feel that we're going places.

"Edinburgh showed that they are a good side. They played some good rugby."