Comment - If Peter O'Mahony leaves you would feel for him, but you would feel worse for Munster
There are two men who could bring down the curtain on what it truly means to play for Munster – Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony.
It would seem the latter has a decision to make.
The bargaining positions of the IRFU and O’Mahony, through agent Horizon Sports, are rooted in the limits of financial practicality, on the part of the Union, and O’Mahony’s personal financial security.
It was less than a year ago when O’Mahony was out of form and out of the Ireland team.
The misfortune of Jamie Heaslip in picking up his now infamous lower back injury opened the door for O’Mahony to steal a Grand Slam from England by stealing ball off their revered lineout.
This convinced British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland that the Corkman was worth a seat on the plane to New Zealand and the captain’s armband for the first test.
His stoicism in being relieved of the armband for the final test marked him out as a quintessential team player.
It has been reported by The Irish Times that two French clubs, one of which will double his income, and one English club, looking for a captain, have outbid the IRFU’s offer of a much-coveted national contract from this summer.
O’Mahony has played through the coaching philosophies of Tony McGahan (2010-2012), Rob Penney (2012-2014), Anthony Foley (2014-2016) and Rassie Erasmus (2016-2017), no one lasting more than two years.
Now, Johann van Graan has been signed on for – that’s right – two years to continue Munster’s upward trajectory.
There could be an issue about the continuity of coaching and where, exactly, Munster are going.
Outside that, O’Mahony looks set to forego the 2019 World Cup unless the Union is willing to meet him halfway.
The recent evidence of those who have taken the plane does not make for good reading.
Jonathan Sexton’s two-year hiatus at Racing 92 was good for his pocket, not for his body.
Martin Moore will return to Ireland next summer at Ulster after two inconsistent seasons at Wasps.
Ian Madigan’s move from Bordeaux-Begles to Bristol has not brought him any closer to top form or further Ireland recognition.
Simon Zebo was placed outside the Ireland circle for November on foot of his move to France next summer.
The physical commitment and mental strength of O’Mahony to push through will never be in question on the field.
If there is one area where Ireland can survive the loss of such a man, it is in the back row.
If there is one province that cannot afford to lose such a vital leadership piece, it is Munster.
Should the curtain fall, you would feel for O'Mahony. You would feel worse for Munster.