Monday 18 December 2017

Leamy calls for calm in heat of battle

David Kelly

David Kelly

It's been 12 months since Denis Leamy was helped from the Stade Aime Giral in agony.

Then, he paid an exorbitant physical price in a collective effort that aided the astonishing 37-14 success over Perpignan which did so much to secure Munster's perennial berth in the knockout stages.

A year on, Leamy sits before us as Munster captain ahead of an equally definitive away trip in the pool stages, now that Paul O'Connell's recklessness seems certain to render him absent from the return clash with the Ospreys.

After completing his finest 80 minutes since recovering from the serious knee injury in the final play that day in France, Leamy's presence encourages Munster supporters that they can continue to thrive despite the absence of their talisman.

Not that the Cashel stand-in felt it wise to tick off the former Lions captain. Not yet, anyway. "I'm sure that will come," he smiles.

"I think you just have to feel sorry for the guy, because he's worked very hard to come back and then to be back on the pitch only for a few minutes in a Heineken Cup game and then have to leave; I wouldn't like to have said a whole lot to him in the state he was in after, but I'm sure the slagging will come."

This Saturday's Swansea bear pit will emulate anything the Heineken Cup experts have experienced in the past decade. Maintaining their discipline -- and a full complement of players -- will thus be crucial.

"It's hugely important," Leamy says of his side's need to retain composure despite how the Ospreys may cynically attempt to unnerve them. "We don't want to get involved in one-on-ones or individual things. Just for someone to react to something that has gone on can cost you three or six points and away from home that can be the difference on the day.

"We've got to be very disciplined. Getting the win is all that's important. Chasing individual victories over opposite numbers with guys that we've tried to settle scores with in the past isn't what's up for debate in these Heineken Cup games. What is important is that we focus on the win."

Securing ruck ball in the last play of that Perpignan clash last year, only for the enormous heft of Tony Buckley to land full square on his prone knee, cost him "nine months of his career".

Yet Leamy is not looking back, instead intent on focusing fully on maximising his side's rousing conclusion to Sunday's 'first-leg' victory against the Welsh, when they repelled the numerically superior opponents following O'Connell's daft dismissal.

"I suppose the cliche always used with these back-to-back games is that it is the end of the first half, and we're ahead at this stage," he offers. "I think in the circumstances we did well to close out the game the other day and get the result.

"It's a positive thing getting the four points. Obviously we would have liked to deny them their bonus, but that wasn't the case. Now it's a whole new game. We have to go over to their patch and put in a big performance."

Irish Independent

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