Tuesday 21 August 2018

Fogarty happy to hype 'special' game

Leinster's John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster's almost annual pre-European clash with Munster never fails to draw the crowds, but sometimes it can under-deliver on the pitch.

Yet within the set-ups this fixture is marked out on the calendar as the moment their campaign begins to get serious and the day bragging rights are handed out for the year to come.

The return game on St Stephen's Day is likely to be light on internationals as the player-management scheme kicks into gear, so this October renewal is the main event.

Europe beckons and a slow start would be catastrophic to both teams' ambitions, so there is a need to find momentum in Saturday's game.

Fans are responding in good numbers and more than 42,000 tickets have been sold and judging by John Fogarty's demeanour as he met the media in UCD yesterday, the home side are certainly up for it.

The former hooker lined up on both sides of the divide and knows what this fixture is about.

When it was put to him yesterday that its place in the schedule has taken away a little of its lustre, he wasn't entertaining the idea.

"I don't agree with that at all," he said. "It's still a fixture that's a bit more important in the season. It's still so important to our lads. If you watch how they prep, if you see the focus in them during the week. They're not thinking about Montpellier, it's important but they're not thinking about that at all.

"They're not thinking about how they need to be fit for Montpellier, they're thinking about what it is to play in the Aviva.

"There are 42,000 tickets sold and we deeply understand how important it is to supporters. We can't help but think about the amount of history that's wrapped up in the game, you can't help but think about Axel (Foley), for instance.

"Last time we saw him was at this game last year. There's so much to it, it's not just a fixture that sits in the middle of the season and prepares us to play in Europe. It's such good prep for what comes next, but I don't care about what comes next.

"We're focusing on putting on a really good show for the 45-50,000 people who'll come watch the game. We're focusing on putting together a performance we can be proud of.

"We want to win the game. We want to win the game so that we beat Munster."

Comfortable Leinster have widely acknowledged that their performance in Friday's win over Edinburgh wasn't up to scratch.

An improvement will be needed against a Munster side who enjoyed a more comfortable outing against Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park.

Fogarty says the time for excuses has past as the season steps up a notch.

"You can't accept that happened because, 'It's our first hit-out' or say, 'We need more time'. I don't accept that at all, players shouldn't accept that those outcomes were good enough. They weren't," he said.

"We're focused on those things now. There's intensity in the lads now, there's focus in their eyes and we're making sure they understand this was poor and that was s**t against Edinburgh.

"Tighten up all the bits and then we can bring the knowledge at the end of the week… because we need to and we want to do well."

Irish Independent

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