Thursday 21 November 2019

O'Mahony feels weight of history

Peter O'Mahony says the Stade de France is 'a very intimidating place to come and play'
Peter O'Mahony says the Stade de France is 'a very intimidating place to come and play'

Peter O'Mahony cannot even begin to imagine capping the biggest week of his career with the RBS 6 Nations trophy.

The fit-again Munster captain admits it is impossible to ignore the pressure ahead of Ireland's Six Nations title decider against France in Paris on Saturday.

The 24-year-old said he could not watch when Ronan O'Gara's late drop-goal helped Ireland secure their first Grand Slam since 1948, against Wales in Cardiff back in 2009.

The combative loose-forward had just returned to Ireland from Under-20s Six Nations duty, and remembers watching through his fingers at Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan's house.

Half a decade on O'Mahony struggles to contemplate his potential role in history, as Ireland chase just a third win in 42 years in France.

"I don't think I could explain what it would mean, no," said O'Mahony.

"In 2009, we'd just come back from our own Six Nations game, and we watched the game at Ian Madigan's house.

"I remember I couldn't watch for the last kick, because it meant so much to everyone, so you definitely remember where you were for that one.

"Of course the importance comes through, you feel the pressure: without any doubt this is the biggest week of my career so far.

"You're certainly put pressure on yourself, trying to turn it to your favour and use it as motivation.

"Since you're small you want to play in games like this for trophies, it's the reason the game is so great, to compete for these sorts of trophies.

"Then you've got to try to stay away from the pressure side of things, and not listen to any of the talk about it."

Ireland are confident of breaking their long-running Paris hoodoo as Brian O'Driscoll makes his 141st and final Test appearance.

O'Mahony said Ireland will hope routine and reason can help them shrug off the intimidation factor that always creates a daunting Paris atmosphere.

"It's just such a tough place to come and play," said O'Mahony.

"The French are hugely passionate, and a hugely able team, and when they're at home they're even stronger again.

"It's a very intimidating place to come and play, it's one of the toughest stadiums to come and get a win.

"That's the main reason we've struggled.

"The great thing about this competition is you go week by week.

"We're not looking back on last week, and we're not looking at momentum.

"We've taken confidence out of the way we've gone about our work and the way we've trained this week.

"We haven't talked about us being special nor this game being anything other than what it is.

"It's a cup final for us: we've got to get our job roles right from the start tomorrow."

O'Driscoll and Ireland have fought desperately this week to fend off talk of the iconic centre ending his international career in fairytale style with a second Six Nations title.

O'Mahony echoed the sentiment, but vowed not to let it unhinge Ireland's steely focus.

"It would be great for Brian, but I think everyone has enough to worry about, about their own jobs," said O'Mahony.

"It's such a big week for everyone, you have to make sure you've got your own things right.

"It is an important week for Brian obviously, and it would be great to help him finish on a high, but I've got to worry about myself to be honest."

PA Media

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