Saturday 16 December 2017

Brian Walsh: Focus on small things can pay off in a big way

Munster’s Dave O’Callaghan and James Cronin, left, in action during training in Limerick Photo: Sportsfile
Munster’s Dave O’Callaghan and James Cronin, left, in action during training in Limerick Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Walsh

Unlike most of the other teams in the Pro12 we don't have a second weekend without a game, so we kept downtime to a minimum in the last week or so.

Tonight we play our game in hand away to Cardiff Blues and it was vital that we prepared as well as possible for such a crucial game.

If we win, it will push us up the table another bit and that will give us everything to play for going in to the last run of games.

Recently, we've been focusing on the things we are good at and not trying to master everything. Consequently, we have started to build good confidence levels about the way we are playing and the atmosphere around camp is very good.

We have concentrated on small things with lots of repetition and we should see the benefit of that again tonight like we saw against Dragons last time out.

Dragons are a very difficult team to play and as we have seen this season, they can turn over teams easily.

Last time out it was important that we got a good start and backed it up with really good work-rate throughout.

We also got a few lads back out on the pitch, which was pleasing. Johnny Holland got 20 minutes on his way back from injury. It was 19-5 when he came on so that was a great test and he did well.


It was important that we got maximum points from that game, so it meant it was a successful week.

At the moment the Pro12 is really competitive, and with the Six Nations going on, with players going up and down to camp, and teams have knocks and bangs, it is important to keep the show on the road when you are not sure who is going to be available from week to week. From that point of view the last few weeks have been successful for us.

Going to the Arms Park means you are guaranteed to have a good surface that produces quick ball and an open game.

We played Glasgow on a 4G surface a few weeks back so we are quite comfortable on it. We were caught a bit cold at the start of that game, so we need to be cognisant that the pace will be high from the off, but once we keep that in mind it won't be an issue.

The pitch will suit the way we are playing the game at the moment and after the poor conditions underfoot in recent months, everyone is looking forward to it.

Cardiff have been pretty consistent - even though they haven't gotten the results their form deserves. They have pushed a lot of good teams close lately and have finished games really strongly, so we know they will go for 80 minutes.

They play with a lot of width, they have a very good back-row - Josh Navidi is struggling to get in their team, so that tells you how good they are.

They are confident in their game and they will definitely be very difficult to beat at home.

Even though we haven't had our international lads at our disposal of late, it was fantastic to see Donnacha Ryan get man of the match for Ireland at the weekend.

Keith Earls is playing well too, Conor Murray is as consistent as ever, CJ Stander was eye catching in scoring his first Ireland try and Simon Zebo looks to be in great form at full-back, all of which is great news for us.

Then we had Dave Foley, Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O'Donnell, Jack O'Donoghue and Andrew Conway linking up with the squad again this week, which is great for them considering their current form and the work they always put in to their game.

Dave Kilcoyne has been playing really well, and fighting for the spot here with James Cronin is bringing out the best in the two of them. Andrew recently switched from wing to full-back and has been putting in the hours to hone his skills there, so this call-up is well deserved.

And Tommy has put in a massive effort to get back to fitness again, so I'm particularly delighted for him as well.

A few of the lads will be back for us tonight in Cardiff and they'll have a big job to do, but I'm confident that the form of everyone in the squad can help us towards victory.

It'll be tough for sure, but a win is the target, which would be another timely boost ahead of the run-in.

Irish Independent

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