Saturday 15 December 2018

The boys will be happy to have a chance to put last week to bed

Player Diary: Tommy O’Donnell

Racing 92’s Donnacha Ryan gets to grips with his former team-mate Ian Keatley in last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Racing 92’s Donnacha Ryan gets to grips with his former team-mate Ian Keatley in last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The most frustrating part about being injured is not being able to play your part in the big games, but when the team loses a big one it's really tough.

I watched the game at the weekend from the comfort of my armchair but I knew exactly what the lads were going through over there.

There was a bit of shell-shock about the first 20 minutes and it was hard to live with Racing at that stage.

The lads did really well to get back in the game but Racing took the intensity out of the second half.

In fairness to them they defended incredibly well to keep us out before half-time too.

You felt if we'd had scored then it would have put a different face on the second half and it would have been a lot closer.

Their lineout was very good too. It might have looked like ours didn't function, but that's how competitive they were. They went up with us on nearly every ball and it was very hard to win back possession. Throwing into such a small window is very tough.

CHALLENGE

In general, your aim is to challenge every ball, but with some complex lineout moves you won't get up there. But just look at the quality in their second and back-rows.

They all could play in the second-row, their jumping is that good. That's what made them such a good defensive unit and with Donnacha Ryan in there too, he would have had them well-drilled and well-prepared.

None of the lads from France were in UL on Monday but the rehab group was around. We talked it out between ourselves about what could have been, what happened and what went wrong.

There will be a bit of trying to raise spirits this week because the season isn't over by any means. There's a huge trophy still up for grabs in the PRO14 and we know from last year how hard it is to win.

We have to be at the top of our game for the weeks to come because of the quality of opposition left in the competition. Even tomorrow, Ulster are coming off the back of a great win over Glasgow who are the competition's high-flyers.

They are pushing hard to get back into the quarter-final places, so they have to come to Thomond Park and get a bonus-point win.

They need a result to go their way in Scotland too but they'll be keen to do their part. We're expecting a huge test. This time last year was a tight game and the tie was in its final minutes before we put them away. We're going to need a quality performance tomorrow.

The boys will be happy to have an immediate chance to put last week to bed as they focus on trying to get some different silverware. It would be fantastic to win the PRO14 for the first time since 2011.

I've gotten used to the thought that my season is over now but I am now a month post-surgery and I got rid of the sling during the week, so things are looking up.

It's tough when you're bound up for the first couple of weeks.

Things like driving and doing jobs around the house are really tough - my lawn really needs to be cut too, but I can't manage it.

Once you get rid of the sling you feel back to normal again, a bit like a calf out on grass for the first time. But you have to realise your limitations and take things easy for a while.

I have no exact date in mind for my return, but I'll be looking to be back in full training by the time pre-season comes around.

I hope to progress well in the next couple of weeks when it will all be about strengthening the muscles around the joint.

Normally when you have surgery and there is an incision made, those muscles will switch off.

Right now is all about reactivating those muscles and then next month I can start building up the strength and the size in the shoulder again.

By the time pre-season rolls around I'll be able to start progressing back into contact.

It won't be all toil either. During the summer I'll have a break to enjoy a bit of a holiday.

I'll be given my own schedule and I'll be far enough down the line at that stage that all I have to do is work away on my own.

Being part of the injured group, myself and Tyler Bleyendaal joined Darren O'Shea in Clonmel last week for a visit to Tony Connolly Menswear, which sponsors the team. It was good to be back on home turf and to see such a great Munster crowd out to welcome us.

We'd love to be involved for the run-in though. These inter-pro games are a test at any time but at the business end of the campaign it's bound to be even more intense than usual.

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