Thursday 19 September 2019

No US trip for Cork man but he aims to build on recent form

His shoulder injury marred Munster’s win over Glasgow last week, but the captain is keen to be involved, writes Daragh Small

Peter O’Mahony is the picture of concentration in training. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Peter O’Mahony is the picture of concentration in training. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Daragh Small

There were six Munster players named in the Irish squad for their trip to USA, and the clash with Italy at Soldier tomorrow, but club captain Peter O'Mahony was not one of them.

The 29-year-old flanker was one of seven regulars rested for the game in Chicago. And he is thoroughly deserving a weekend off after his heroics in a Munster jersey again last Saturday.

It was O'Mahony who forced referee Daniel Jones' hand, before Rory Scannell knocked over the game winning penalty in a 25-24 success at Thomond Park.

O'Mahony knew that he was putting his body on the line when he attempted the audacious turnover at the death, and he was almost cleared out by the avalanche of Glasgow Warriors that attempted to get him away.

But he clung on for dear life, Jones blew the whistle to signal a Munster penalty and Scannell did the rest from the kicking tee.

It was a moment that epitomised all that was good about Munster Rugby, and O'Mahony too. He will be missed at Soldier Field tomorrow but there is a bigger picture too.

Peter O'Mahony getting treatment during last week’s Glasgow Warriors clash. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Peter O'Mahony getting treatment during last week’s Glasgow Warriors clash. Photo: SPORTSFILE

After tomorrow's clash with Conor O'Shea's side, Ireland will prepare for another grudge match against Argentina and then on 17 November the All Blacks visit Aviva Stadium.

"The beauty of the Irish jersey is it's never one you get easy," said O'Mahony.

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"It will be no different this time around. Guys have earned their positions and they still have to work hard to get a jersey in the matchday 23, regardless of who is around, you see the competition that's there.

"You want to go out and win every game. Obviously you want to test yourself against the best.

"I wouldn't be getting carried away by the New Zealand game yet. We have Italy and Argentina first up. Guys will be targeting the first one up and we will take it from there.

"I know people think that we say it for the craic or just to fob the journalists off, but with the way rugby goes and it's so attritional you just don't know what 40 is going to go to the World Cup through injury or form. We don't think about it yet.

Prolific

"It's just so far away that it's very hard to think about. You are off the back of two European games and it's PRO14 for Munster now. The World Cup is not something that you will genuinely be thinking about for a long time.

"It is a carrot but in the blink of an eye you have an injury. It's just not on the cards. It's not something the players will be thinking about for the moment anyway."

The Cork native has played 50 times for Ireland and captained the side for their 2013 tour of USA and Canada. O'Mahony scored his only try for Ireland against Samoa in November 2013 but he has been more prolific for Munster with 13 tries in all.

He made his Munster debut against Ulster way back in January 2010 and went on to make 114 appearances in the famous red jersey.

Munster had a difficult 30-22 defeat away to Leinster before their impressive start to the Champions Cup and last weekend's thrilling win over Glasgow.

"It's good to be back in the PRO14. It's very competitive and another huge test again for Munster this week. It's going to be a big test for this weekend again," said O'Mahony.

"We would be reasonably happy with how things are. In terms of Europe, we spoke about the performance against Gloucester and certainly we weren't happy with the first 20 minutes.

"But to get five points at home is hugely important. It was a big test away in Exeter. The record they have there and how good a side they are.

"You go with the mindset to win every game but we were certainly happy with the two points in Exeter.

"Getting a win against Gloucester was the most important thing. The bonus point certainly helps along with the two points from the draw. You see with the different results that went on over those first two weeks. It's incredibly competitive and very difficult to pick up wins.

"We would be very happy with seven out of the ten points."

And Munster's resurgence has stemmed from a powerful pack. The players have really fronted up and the regular heads have been energised by the addition of newer faces too.

Tadhg Beirne and Arno Botha have added plenty of brains and brawn since they arrived before the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

"It's so important from the extended squad's point of view. The reason you get guys in and young guys coming through the academy is because you want them guys to perform. Performing to the highest level in the European Cup," said O'Mahony.

"You want guys to step up and put in big shifts, younger guys putting in big shifts is very important for us.

"Tadhg Beirne and Arno Botha are two great guys to have in the squad. You see the last few weeks the rugby they play, it's the most important thing.

"It's hugely impressive to see them start well. Two good guys to have added to the squad as well, and having the craic. It's great to have them on board."

And the brilliant forward unit has been complemented nicely by the sublime attacking outlet behind them. As expected Joey Carbery has been an instant hit.

"Joey has been playing very well over the last number of weeks," said O'Mahony.

"He has had some great performances over the last few years. He is still only 22 so he is learning all of the time. If you look at it he hasn't played a huge amount of rugby at ten. He is getting a run at it now with us.

"He has put in some great performances. He would be the first person to say that he is far from the finished article. He is learning every time he pulls on the jersey.

"You seen some of the stuff he can do, not a lot of people can do that. It's good to have him on board as well."

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