Sunday 24 June 2018

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Forget the losses and move on

Sore defeat to Ospreys won't have festered all week in camp

Craig Ronaldson scoring his side’s first try against Ospreys. Photo: Ben Evans/Sportsfile
Craig Ronaldson scoring his side’s first try against Ospreys. Photo: Ben Evans/Sportsfile

Ronan Loughney

The practice of playing in two competitions is one that requires not only mental strength and focus but also a lot of planning and preparation in the background. The difficult process of switching focus from one to the other in consecutive weeks is exacerbated when the preceding fixture carries the weight, expectation and consequence that Connacht's home quarter-final against Gloucester did.

I think that most people firmly believed Connacht had an excellent chance of going the whole way in this competition. If they could have produced some of the quality play that we've seen intermittently throughout the season in the remaining fixtures, there was a definite hope of continuing on the path to silverware. In parts Connacht were very good and had it not been for a few unlucky bounces and couple of instances of ill-discipline, things might have been different.

In the wake of their loss and exit from the cup, they had the difficult challenge of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and changing focus to travel to meet an Ospreys side that are playing with a massively renewed confidence since Steve Tandy's departure and Allen Clarke's interim appointment.

It was a difficult game and a very disappointing result. I made my professional debut for Connacht in the Liberty Stadium in 2005. Other than that I have very few good memories from the place.

After results like that questions are always asked, and despite the fact that it seemed like there was nothing to play for, I have no doubt that will not have been the sentiment amongst players this week. In recent years a lot of coaches and players have put emphasis on 'the process' in reaching goals.

Not only does this break down the task of achieving the goals into more manageable actions, it also prevents you from making the goal the 'master' of your week. When things go wrong it gives you a framework to revert to improve for the coming week.

As a professional in sport, you learn to deal with the process of losing. You are conditioned not to dwell on it for too long. You analyse it, recognise areas that need improvement, plays that were not executed, and move on.

Consecutive

Different people react in different ways but, as is often referenced by players, the beauty of playing consecutive games is that you only have to wait a week for a chance to put things right.

No doubt the Connacht lads will have analysed the game against Ospreys, recognised the mistakes they made and will now try and remedy them this weekend in Glasgow.

After two tough defeats for Connacht, it doesn't get any easier this week heading to Glasgow but they will no doubt have broken down their week into the little processes and highlighted areas of opportunity and approached the fixture with the usual thoroughness that players do in professional environments nowadays.

What will be more difficult is they will need to look within themselves to find a personal motivation to perform. Some guys will be playing for tour spots in the summer, some guys will potentially be playing for contracts, others will be looking to put their hand up for next season; all players will want to get rid of the taste of defeat and all players will want to see their captain off on the back of a few wins and let him finish an incredible career on a high.

There is something very satisfactory about getting a win away from home. There are much easier places you could be going in search of a win than Scotstoun, particularly with the season Glasgow are having, but one thing this league has shown us is that on any particular day we can have upsets and that no team is infallible.

The Leinster game two weeks later is one that always carries a special significance. In the past even when a season wasn't going well, a win against another province was always a feather in your cap and something the objective audience took note of, but the fact that this will be John Muldoon's last game will no doubt bring a new level of significance and an emotion that will have no player struggling to find the motivation to produce a performance.

Irish Independent

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