Tuesday 15 October 2019

Leinster have a plan and we will be sticking to it – Fogarty

Assistant coach John Fogarty. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Assistant coach John Fogarty. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster's review of the Champions Cup final was ruthlessly introspective. Notably, some of the younger voices challenged authority the loudest, with probing questions, all seeking to determine how they had slipped so far below their standards at crucial times.

All agreed that they would be galvanised from within, determined to find a better way to be better, eager to atone.

This was how it went a year ago when Leinster had won their Champions Cup final. This is how they win and this is how they lose.

“The guys that we have in here at the moment are unbelievably good at dealing with huge wins and huge losses, trying to learn,” says assistant coach John Fogarty, amidst the Saracens post-mortem.

“They’re very specific in their chat when they come in to speak to us and they test us as coaches massively. They will want to know exactly what we can do better.

“They’ll take it apart. They’re designed differently. When I was that age, I needed experience to become a good player.

“They’re getting much stronger at being forensic around their game and they understand a lot around what’s happening, so we’re a good young side.

“We will learn from this experience.”

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Words that could also have been spoken last year but which apply equally this; nonetheless, some doubts swirl, about the strength of the squad and the pliability of the game management which, together, undid them on Saturday.

The bench, aside from obvious front-row supplements, was virtually ignored, a poor reflection of supposed depth, while the suffocation in Bilbao, repeated in Newcastle, eventually smothered them.

Leinster are determined not to respond to either scenario in a panicked state. Despite losing Jordi Murphy, Joey Carbery and Isa Nacewa in 2018, then Jack McGrath and Sean O’Brien in 2019, they retain faith in who remains, even if not evidenced last weekend.

“We can’t go and grab ready-made, seasoned internationals and plonk them into this team because that’s not how we’re designed,” Fogarty (left) stresses.

“If we had won that game would we be talking about a weakened squad? We are very honest as a group and we would be kidding ourselves if we tried to fluff stuff up.

“But of all the things we have spoken about, the squad depth has never once come up. You are going to be compared to Saracens when you play them in a final and lose.

“But we don’t think too much around that. We are very happy with where we are.

“If we’d got on top of them then we’d be having a totally different conversation. The initial feeling is our heads got clouded a bit.

“We believe that we’re good enough to be able to win in Europe. We haven’t looked back over the last few games and thought ‘we’re having a big dip here’.

“We’re sticking to the plan. There’s a huge hunger for Munster now, it’s going to be an epic battle.”

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