Friday 14 December 2018

We were ready for Edinburgh but 'Beast from East' won this week

Player Diary

We are all wishing Chris Cloete a speedy recovery from his forearm break
We are all wishing Chris Cloete a speedy recovery from his forearm break

Jack O'Donoghue

We've heard a lot about 'The Beast from the East' all week, but because of our front-loaded training week, it didn't really affect our preparation and we worked on the basis the game would go ahead.

When you play a game on a Friday, like we were meant to in Murrayfield tonight, Monday becomes hectic as we try and double up our work. Although it was busy, there was a great buzz around the camp on the back of a weekend off and a great win against conference leaders Glasgow. All our meetings, previews and reviews are done first thing, followed by a busy pitch session, while the week gradually tapers off with lighter sessions.

On Tuesday, we said goodbye to Sean McCarthy. He's a great guy, representing the Kingdom, and someone who I would have played with since sub-academy days. He's had a tough time since suffering a bad injury against Ulster Ravens back in 2015 but he never gave up and came back this year fitter than ever.

Strength

You've got to admire his mental strength and contribution to training even when not getting selected, he gave everything to Munster to ensure the lads were 100pc prepared going into the weekend and never complained. I'd like to say thanks and wish him all the best for the future.

Following the loss in Cardiff we were hurting massively, and we had a point to prove against Glasgow. There were a few other factors involved also: it was the last game of the season in Irish Independent Park; it was a full house against Glasgow, our conference leaders; and it was Simon Zebo's last game in Cork. It wasn't difficult to get our minds ready for the game. It was a great team performance, we showed up physically and our execution was outstanding, especially exiting out of our own 22.

We did have a few internationals returning after being released from Ireland camp, lads who were trying to show Joe that they are ready for selection also.

Everyone had their own individual motivations, but I think all in all it just came down to a great team performance. 

As a replacement, I got on the pitch earlier than I expected, and, unfortunately for Chris Cloete, he has suffered a break to his forearm. You never want to see one of your team-mates going down injured. We genuinely wish him a speedy recovery in the next few months. 

The beauty of a Friday game is that you get to sit down and watch the rest of your team-mates playing for Ireland on Saturday, and it was a great team performance by Ireland.

It's a pity our game tonight fell victim to the weather as the outcome could have a massive influence on the two conferences. Edinburgh are lying in third, eyeing an away quarter-final, and we are looking to try and catch Glasgow at the top of ours.

Edinburgh are in great form, they have only lost one home game this season and we know we will be up against it when it is played in a couple of weeks.

They've beaten Ulster and Leinster lately too so we know the challenge that they pose. Our away form to date hasn't been what it should be and it's something we want to rectify.

Last season we were great away from home, so what better time to improve our return than when there is a chance we could qualify for the quarters with a win if Cardiff slip-up.

That result against Cardiff was so disappointing, it was probably one of our worst performances all season, but on a personal note, it was a huge day for me.

Captaining Munster for the first time is something I'm certainly going to remember for the rest of my career. 

I think every youngster in the province dreams about playing for Munster and pulling on the red jersey, but to captain the team was really something special.

I didn't think it would come this early in my playing days. Axel made me 'A' captain a few years ago, so he had seen the leadership potential in me after the U-20 World Cup, but having just turned 24 being captain was massive for me and my family.

My mum made her first away trip for the occasion. When I told her she was straight on the computer to book the trip and a few of my family came over as well. I have one younger brother and an older brother who lives in Vancouver in Canada, so it was big for them too. Obviously the result wasn't great but seeing everyone after the game really put a smile back on my face. 

I didn't realise that I was the first Waterford person to captain Munster in the professional era, so to have that is something sweet.

The texts came in pretty quickly after people started to find out, it meant a lot to the people back home, people in Waterpark RFC, my former coaches and team-mates; it was big for them because they invested a lot of time and effort in me.

It's something I'd love to achieve again, but it would have been a far sweeter occasion had we won.

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