Wednesday 18 September 2019

O'Mahony warns Munster: 'It will take best game of team's time together' 

Peter O'Mahony has called on his Munster team to produce an era-defining performance against Saracens to overcome the loss of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls and end their 11-year wait for a European final.

Captain Peter O'Mahony. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Captain Peter O'Mahony. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Peter O'Mahony has called on his Munster team to produce an era-defining performance against Saracens to overcome the loss of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls and end their 11-year wait for a European final.

Having lost his fitness battle after suffering a thigh injury two weeks ago, Earls watched on as the captain led his charges on their training session at Coventry's Ricoh Arena yesterday.

This is Munster's third semi-final in a row and their fifth in seven seasons and the two-time champions are desperate to end their run of defeats against the 2016 and '17 winners whose team is packed with Lions.

"It's going to take the best game of our season so far, probably this group's time together over the last few years, you know?" O'Mahony said. "Certainly, since Johann (van Graan) has come in. I have no doubt that this is going to be the biggest one, the toughest one.

"You wouldn't expect anything less in a semi-final in Europe.

"It's a great competition. To be playing alongside the group that I have and against a team like Saracens, it doesn't get any bigger than that.

"These are the games that you want to be involved in but it takes an enormous amount of effort and willingness to work hard for each other, to get a win in this kind of game. We'll probably have to dig a bit deeper than usual but, hopefully, we can do so."

Despite the injuries, O'Mahony is confident Munster will deliver a performance.

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"You'd like to hope so at this time of year," he said.

"You want to be playing your best rugby and, obviously, the amount of rugby we've played until now, the amount of training we've done, it all accumulates to this end of the season.

"You try to win all those games to get to knockout rugby and when you get here, between strength and conditioning, coaching staff, players, the leadership group and everyone - the whole thing is revolved around this next 24 hours.

"That's what it all comes down to and that's what you're striving for, trying to get to finals and win finals. You know, tomorrow is, as I said, the biggest challenge of our year and we're delighted to be here.

"There's lots of teams this weekend, lots of incredibly talented, excellent teams in Europe who don't have a game this weekend.

"We consider ourselves very lucky, we've worked very hard to get here but everything has accumulated to this point and we're delighted to be able to have another 80 minutes to showcase what we can do in this competition."

Saracens welcome back long-term absentees Mako Vunipola and captain Brad Barritt as they look to reach their fourth European final in five seasons.

Leinster, meanwhile, welcome Johnny Sexton back to their starting XV for the first time since the December 29 defeat to Munster for their semi-final against Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.

Leo Cullen has named a strong starting XV, with Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner joining Sexton in the side after missing the quarter-final win over Ulster as James Lowe comes on to the wing and Rob Kearney gets the nod at full-back.

Toulouse have gone for France scrum-half Antoine Dupont at out-half, partnering Sebastien Bezy, with Romain Ntamack on the bench.


Kidney back in big time

SEÁN O’BRIEN will be playing Premiership rugby next season after London Irish secured their promotion back to England’s top flight at the first time of asking with a 46-7 bonus-point success against Richmond.

Declan Kidney guided the Exiles back to the Premiership with a game to spare, ensuring Leinster flanker O’Brien, who is transferring at the end of this campaign, will be plying his trade against the likes of Saracens and Exeter next season.

Ireland out-half Ian Keatley kicked two conversions for Kidney’s side, who also have Les Kiss on the coaching ticket.

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