Sunday 19 November 2017

Last season's painful soul-searching has paid off - Dempsey

Girvan Dempsey and Leinster learned lessons since last year’s Wasps defeat. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Girvan Dempsey and Leinster learned lessons since last year’s Wasps defeat. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The stunning win over Wasps went some way towards easing the painful memories of last season, and Girvan Dempsey insists that is the benchmark Leinster must reach for the rest of the season as they look to win silverware.

Leinster's first-half performance was up there with the best that the province have produced since Leo Cullen took over as head coach, and although they wobbled slightly after the break, rather than see out the game, they killed it off with a late try from Fergus McFadden.

Last season was tough for everyone involved with the province, particularly the home-grown coaching group, but performances this year have left little doubt that a corner has been turned.

Influence

Stuart Lancaster's influence has of course been key but Cullen, Dempsey and John Fogarty are a year further down the track.

Wasps humbled Leinster twice last season but sweet revenge was exacted at the Aviva as the Blues sealed their place in the last four against Clermont Auvergne in Lyon.

"It was hard, that was a tough day," Dempsey recalled of the Wasps defeat. "That performance was embarrassing. There was a lot of soul-searching, a lot of looking at where we were at.

"The amount of work that has gone into to move us forward has been incredible. It is not just one thing. It is the culmination of a lot of things in how the group has grown.

"We always had faith. We always had confidence that we had a very good group of players.

"Those performances (last season) weren't reflective of how we were. There were a few things that need to click, and happily, they have this year, in terms of our game, attack and defence.

"It's been very pleasing. Saturday was good. We recognise that it is a benchmark.

"With the back-to-back losses to Wasps last year, this was an opportunity to show how this group has progressed.

"Everyone across the board shouldered the responsibility. We all felt where we were as a group wasn't where Leinster should be.

"We knew we had to put a few things in place and we did during the off-season and we grew. It is a testament to the players and all the staff for how hard they have worked.

"There was that commitment last year. But, there was a number of building blocks that had to be put in place. Maybe, there wasn't the clarity. We're reaping the rewards of that work this year.

"Those young guys got a taste of it last year. They've all contributed massively to success in the two competitions.

"We feel the foundation of this club is the grass-roots development up from our regional development areas to our Academy. It's great go see that it's happening."

The focus now switches back to the Guinness PRO12 and the trip across the Irish Sea to take on the Ospreys tomorrow, with Dempsey insisting that his side are ready for the challenge.

Irish Independent

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