Wednesday 23 January 2019

O'Mahony hails tour experience as focus turns to Racing

Munster's Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster's Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon in Bloemfontein

There isn't much that Peter O'Mahony hasn't experienced at this stage but spending two weeks abroad in a bubble with his Munster teammates ahead of a crunch European game is a new departure.

The Munster squad returned home yesterday via Dubai from what turned out to be a very successful tour to South Africa, with Johann van Graan's men holding off a late rally from the Cheetahs to win 19-17 in Bloemfontein.

That meant a haul of nine points from the tour, having the previous week defeated the Southern Kings 39-22, and Munster captain O'Mahony said it has been a very successful trip.

"We spoke at the start that it was our first time coming out to South Africa," he explained.

"It was important that we set our standards high throughout the last two weeks. There were eight guys in both weeks who weren't playing, they trained hard.

"We got a great reception from the South African people but ultimately it was down to the two games.

"Nine out of 10 points is something that I don't think anyone else in the PRO14 can say they came away with. So, we are very happy with it."

The attention has already switched to Sunday's Champions Cup showdown with Racing 92 in Bordeaux and O'Mahony admitted the trip to South Africa ensures this is a build-up to a key European game like none before.

"It's strange. Speaking about it the other day among ourselves, unless you play with an international team you don't really tour that much anymore," said O'Mahony.

"The amount of games that's in a season, club teams just don't tour anymore. You might get a week of a training week during the summer but, other than that, that's about it.

"Certainly, touring is one of the best parts, if not the best, part of rugby; very enjoyable.

"You certainly earn your wins and we definitely earned our win against the Cheetahs."

Van Graan and his management team will now assess who they have available for Sunday's semi-final, with concerns about scrum-half James Hart after he went off after a heavy hit on Saturday evening, while Jack O'Donoghue and Dan Goggin also took knocks.

On the plus side, loosehead James Cronin should be available after recovering from a shoulder stinger early in the game against the Kings, while there is an outside chance that the rehab work done by Keith Earls back in Limerick could see him return from the knee ligament injury picked up late in the Grand Slam win over England in March.

O'Mahony said that the first thing Munster needed to do was recover from the journey back from South Africa, which involved a four-hour bus journey from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg and then flights to Dubai and Dublin.

"It's a lot of travel so it's very important that we try and manage our recovery as best we can. It's difficult when you are travelling like that. But we will take our couple of days off," he said.

"You have to take your momentum when it comes. We are on the back of a couple of wins now.

"It's going to be a different animal next week. Semi-finals of Europe are a different animal."

Irish Independent

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