Wednesday 16 January 2019

Muldoon's farewell gives players extra incentive to make amends style

John Muldoon. Picture: Sportsfile
John Muldoon. Picture: Sportsfile

Denis Buckley

It was a very disappointing outing in Glasgow, and we are desperate to hit back in the final game of the season. It's been a really positive week in the Sportsground.

That defeat hurt and it was unusual how it came about. In the Edinburgh game they kicked off and scored a try straight away. It was a similar thing in the Gloucester game, where we stole a lineout and but they scored.

This game was the polar opposite - they kicked off, but we got a few phases together, earned a penalty and kicked to the corner. We got a maul try from the subsequent lineout.

It was a great start for us and we had spoken about that during the week. We had that good start but after that it all went downhill. We got caught out by their attacking play. Every time they took the ball wide they seemed to be getting line-breaks.

But that's not to say to the defenders in the wide channels were making mistakes.

When we looked back at the review you could see people were caught in at the ruck, or guys weren't folding around the corner.

It had a domino effect and lads had to come in or defend big spaces. Of course, individuals were to blame but it was spread right across the team.

It was a tough Monday review. We spent a bit of time looking at our attack shape and on our defence.

For the first 30 minutes, we were seriously under the pump and they created tries from inside their own half.

The Glasgow coach Dave Rennie came from the Chiefs, where Kieran Keane was also a coach. Glasgow more or less ran the exact same shape. Even some of their calls were quite similar to ones we use.

It was interesting from that point of view. It ended up helping them a lot and hindered us slightly. They read our attack well and manipulated our defence.

Unfortunately, we were a bit passive and paid them too much respect. As the game went on we got stuck into them and the scoreline could have been worse.

Our replacements made a huge difference and credit to them. They helped to stem the Glasgow wave of attack. If Glasgow aren't the best team in the league, then Leinster are, and we have plenty of time to prepare for a huge match for us next weekend at the Sportsground.

A lot of guys are hurting from that Glasgow game so having this build-up to an interprovincial derby is massive.

As the season goes on it becomes quite difficult to train certain facets in game weeks because coaches naturally have to turn their focus towards the next game. They also have to look after the running metres of the players.

But having this training week we got to play scenario-based rugby. We were able to let our attack transition into defence so see what happens when we lose a ball.

We clocked a lot more metres than we would in a regular week when the coaches would be trying to look after us. It's probably a while since we have had a full training week.

Looking ahead to Leinster, it's really exciting to have them coming to our home ground. We have to improve a lot and the good thing is there were clear and honest answers in our review.

Buzzing If an inter-provincial derby in your home ground isn't enough motivation, it's John Muldoon's last game for Connacht.

I know everyone will be absolutely buzzing and incredibly up for the game from that regard as well.

He has been such a loyal servant to Connacht Rugby over the years, and to the wider community too. We have to do him a bit of justice and give him a proper send-off.

Even if the game doesn't have much riding on it in terms of league position, there are still so many other factors to help build us up.

You want to be involved in the big European games. Over the season we have let games go that we shouldn't have let go, and this weekend we will have to watch on.

Overall, we haven't been good enough and as a result we have missed out.

That hurts when you see the other Irish teams doing so well - in one regard you are delighted for them, but at the same time you want to be playing in Aviva Stadium or Bordeaux. You want to earn those games.

A Challenge Cup semi-final or the Guinness PRO14 play-offs were the aims for us at this stage of the season, but we're not there. We need to take it on the chin. We can use that for even more motivation.

Irish Independent

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