Saturday 17 February 2018

We're ready to get back to winning ways again

Tiernan O’Halloran goes through his paces in training this week. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tiernan O’Halloran goes through his paces in training this week. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jimmy Duffy

There is no doubt that wasn't the start to the season we were looking for. Like all teams, we had targeted the Warriors game as a chance to get ourselves up and running and start the new season on a high, especially in front of our home crowd. We're back at the Sportsground tomorrow and we're determined to get back on track against Ospreys.

Last season we built momentum by treating wins and losses in the same manner. It was a game-by-game method and this year is no different.

Once we debriefed Glasgow on Monday morning, we quickly turned our focus to Ospreys. It was a good way to start the week and it focused minds on the next challenge.

In Monday's review the conclusion was pretty much the same that we had reached immediately after the game in the dressing room. There was some really, really good periods of play from us, but at crucial times the final pass didn't stick. That was our own doing, but despite the magnitude of the loss, there is nothing that we can't fix - and pretty rapidly to be honest.

It's not as if you can sweep a game like that under the carpet either, and we had a long, hard look at ourselves on Monday to see where we needed to be better. But once we finished the review everyone could see the positives there too.

There was a lot of very good play from us, and there was a lot of aspects of the game that we were happy with. We just have to make sure that we can close out the chances that come our way, because we did create some great scoring opportunities.


It has been a big word for us all week, but I think our 'execution' across the board was poor. We got ourselves into some great positions but at vital times we turned the ball over.

Often at times we ended up 60 metres back down the field on the back foot, from an error in a comfortable position in attack. In the final third of the field when those chances come our way we have to convert them. That was the message all week.

But, if we're honest about it, we'd be more worried if we were unable to create those chances; we had a lot of territory and possession, but a combination of mistakes cost us in the end.

As well as the familiar faces from last year, there were first caps for Cian Kelleher and Lewis Stevenson, while Eoin Griffin also made his second debut for us. It is always good for the new guys to get game time because it is a long season ahead and everyone in the squad will get their chance.

We have 22 rounds in the Pro12 and another six European pool games. That's a minimum of 28 games as a baseline for the season. It's imperative that everyone is the squad is up to speed and can come in and do a job.

One success of last season that we want to carry forward is that anyone that comes in has to contribute to the team. That's something we'll be looking for throughout the season.

We've been hit with a number of injuries which brings its own pressures. But we're confident that every player in the squad knows his role and can come in and execute.

While all the squad are keen to get back on the field tomorrow, we know we face another tough test against Ospreys - one of the most successful teams in the history of the Pro12.

They got off to a great start with a bonus-point win over Zebre last weekend. All of the Welsh regions will be strong this season, and with internationals to call on right across the board, Ospreys will be a tough opponent tomorrow.

They finished very strongly at the end of last season, and look like they've continued that form and hit the ground running.

They are a really good team and we have given them the highest amount of respect in preparation for this game.

But for us, tomorrow is about focusing on ourselves, what we can control, and trying to impose our game on them. We are very much looking forward to getting the game started now and putting right what we got wrong last week.

It's a bonus being back at the Sportsground and in front of our home supporters again tomorrow. The amount of people that came out last weekend was incredible and the highest for any of our opening games, I believe.

We're looking forward to the same again tomorrow and we're determined to put in a performance that we can all be proud of.

Irish Independent

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