Tuesday 22 May 2018

It's fitting that O'Connell went out on the battlefield - Foley

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell

John Fallon

Munster coach Anthony Foley said that while it is extremely sad that Paul O'Connell's international career should end in this manner, there was something appropriate about the way he went out on the battlefield.

Foley said his former Munster and Irish team-mate never gave less than everything he had and it was fitting that he should bow out putting his body on the line.

"It doesn't look good when a fella gets stretchered off like that and looks to be an awful lot of pain. We are not medical people but we do realise that is going to be a bit of time before he is back on the pitch again. Obviously that probably signals the end of his career in terms of Ireland.

"It is sad in one respect, but for him to go out in the manner he went with - it is probably fitting. He went out fighting for a ball on the ground and trying to get a turnover.

"He had an excellent performance up to that point. He was carrying ball, he was doing everything. Ireland's lineout was functioning well and they were going after the French lineout as well at that stage. It set a tone for the game, for the boys to continue," said Foley.

He said that it was clear O'Connell still had an influence off the field and he praised the manner in which the leaders stepped forward.

"France probably thought they had the job done with Sexton gone off and Paulie being stretchered off. So psychologically if Ireland could have got their act together at half-time, which they clearly did, they would have the edge in the second half.

"And fair play to the leaders within the group and Joe and the coaches. The boys came out for the second half and tore France apart. It is probably testament to the strength and depth in the squad, the involvement of the subs and probably all of the mental work they do, in and around the squad to keep them prepared so they don't fluctuate under pressure, or fluctuate with knock-backs."

O'Connell's Munster career ended when they were beaten by Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 final but Sunday's game against France also came with a big cost for Foley who will now be without his captain Peter O'Mahony for the next few months.

But O'Mahony, who will undergo surgery in the next few weeks on a knee injury, is already back in the fold and turned up at Munster's team meeting at Cork Institute of Technology yesterday.

"Peter was in our team meeting this morning. It is going to be a frustrating period for him because it will really hit through for the boys who are out next Sunday when Ireland run out against Argentina."

Foley lost another international flanker in August when Tommy O'Donnell's World Cup ended when he dislocated a hip against Wales.

"We are still looking into the early part of the New Year with Tommy. He got good news that he didn't need an operation on it so he is on the road to recovery. But he is a few months away," added Foley.

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