Thursday 22 March 2018

'We're keen to push on to final and eventually be crowned champions'

Munster's Cathal Sheridan gets some strapping applied by head of physiotherapy Anthony Coole before training in Limerick. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE
Munster's Cathal Sheridan gets some strapping applied by head of physiotherapy Anthony Coole before training in Limerick. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

Player diary: Dave Kilcoyne

It's strange to think that we are just a couple of weeks away from the end of the season, but whether we will be regarded as a success or failure lies on how well we play in the next couple of games.

Tomorrow against Ulster might be regarded by outsiders as a dead rubber of sorts, but we'll be looking on the game as vital in our preparations for the semi-final – whoever we end up playing.

Ulster are a top side and, in fairness to them, they could have been looking forward to a Heineken Cup final spot in a few weeks, only for some bad luck at home to Saracens. Even last week against Leinster they played very well when they had 14 men for most of the game. There is no doubt they are a fine side and we'll have to be at out best to finish off our home campaign with a win.

It's likely that tomorrow will be our last outing in Thomond Park for the season. That in itself will be enough for us to put on a good showing.

We would hate to leave our home supporters with a defeat to our inter-pro rivals to remember for the summer.

However, all in all, I think we are in good shape. Last weekend in Edinburgh was a real satisfying result for us. We defended well and we were even better in attack and the seven tries helped us to a morale-boosting win.

The humour in the camp is good now, considering it was only a couple of weeks ago that we went out of the Heineken Cup.


Going into the game in Scotland, Rob made 11 changes to the team and it seemed to lift everyone. The lads that got their chance were delighted and, as far as I could see, they all seemed to take it.

What that means now is the lads that missed out – myself included – are now mad keen to get back into the side for tomorrow and impress, especially as we have a Pro12 semi-final to look forward to.

We've all being doing plenty of number-crunching in the last couple of weeks, but really what it boils down to is we will more than likely have an away semi-final to play in Glasgow.

We are only a point behind Glasgow at this stage, but I think we need them to slip up to have a chance. They have Zebre at home in their last game, but after their win against Ospreys last week – which sealed our semi-final spot – Glasgow will be on their toes for that one.

I must say the week after the Toulon game was a tough one. There was a general 'down' feeling around the place about the defeat. But then the boost we got after the win in Meggetland was unreal too. We probably had a bit more to play for than Edinburgh, but for us to go over there and put in that performance was a real lift.

I managed to watch a small bit of the Leinster v Ulster game last weekend too and it seemed to be a great match. As usual, I spend most of my time watching what all the front-rows are up to and it was a real battle.

It was tough on Tom Court to be sent off in his last home game for Ulster, but, even after he went off, I thought they scrummaged very well considering they didn't have Rory Best or John Afoa there. It will be interesting to see who they roll into Thomond Park with, but whoever it is that we pack down against, they have already shown there will be nothing easy given to us.

As I said, it is difficult to have your whole season riding on a couple of games, considering all the effort that went into the league as a whole.

In the Heineken Cup, the knock-out stages are a bit longer with a quarter-final in there too, so you don't notice the switch over from the groups stages to knockout.

The Pro12 is different though. Tomorrow will be our 22nd game of the season in this competition and we then switch to straight knockout. Even if we had won every one of those 22 games, it could all be over in 80 minutes!

But I suppose that has been one of the targets for us all year.

We're in the top four now and we are keen to push on even further, to the final and eventually be crowned champions. We've had plenty of positives to take from this year as a team, so a nice trophy would be another good one to send us on our way for the summer.

On a personal note, I was thrilled to hear I was named on the Pro12 Dream Team of the season. When you think of all the quality loose-heads that operate in this league it is a real honour to be named ahead of them based on the work that we've put in. It's probably something like getting an All Star award in the GAA, so I'm thrilled.

This year I have worked very hard on improving all facets of my game – maybe missing out on the Ireland squad has given me that encouragement – but to be in that dream team is a nice personal accolade.

Then, to have Casey Laulala in there with me as well, is great to see. Casey has had a super season and we'll all miss him next year when he leaves.

But we would both trade this in for three more wins to end the campaign on a high as a team.

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