Saturday 24 March 2018

Winning is a great way to start off a Christmas party

Dave Kilcoyne

You couldn't but feel good after that win in Perpignan. It was very much mission accomplished for us, we are back on track.

After the win on Saturday, we managed to squeeze in some Christmas celebrations on Sunday. The win in Perpignan was vital from that perspective -- you never want to face into the Christmas party on the back of a loss. Long faces really put a damper on the night!

But we were all in great form after the weekend's victory. We met up in The Sin Bin to watch the Gloucester v Edinburgh game and that result made the mood even better for us.

The Scots put in a great performance against Gloucester. They went to their set-piece a lot and it worked for them. They mauled very well and seemed to dig that little bit deeper. We have played them twice this season so far and there is nothing easy against them.

People have this opinion that they are an easy side to win against, but we know from first-hand experience that you have to be on your game against them. They are physical and have huge belief in their talents. We have Gloucester in Kingsholm next, and you might think we are on the pig's back with their defeat. But if we lose there it is really back in the melting pot again.

After leaving Claw's place, we all got on a bus and ended up in Buttevant. Shane Buckley, who is in the academy, his parents own a pub there and they had a big room done up for us.


It was a great night and fair play to the Buckleys for their hospitality. It was a great way to finish off the weekend.

Targeting these two games, we were obviously hoping to get two wins but to come away with nine points, including the bonus point at home and the manner in which we won in Perpignan, we have to be satisfied with our lot. We are in good shape now in the pool so hopefully we can take confidence from that and finish the job off in January.

We did a lot of talking during the week about how intimidating the Stade Aime Giral was going to be. The crowd really do get into it but there was huge Munster support there as well. You should never be surprised to see a big Munster crowd rock up to a game like that, it never fails to stun me how many fans travel at this time of year.

We all saw how much the team and the competition means to them. We went back out after the game to walk around and thank the supporters because they were incredible out there and really pulled us through.

Coming home on the plane with the supporters was a good laugh too. There was a good sing-song all the way home -- they are a noisy bunch -- and it was great for them to have a win to celebrate.

There is no point in denying it though, when they got that try we were really up against it. We thought we had done enough to win it but, even after their try, we still believed we had a chance. Paulie had a few words with us behind the posts, told us to get back down there and the rest is history.

JJ got his magic feet going, it was a brilliant moment for him. But I was delighted for Tommy O'Donnell too, to see him back in the thick of it was great. Bar the 'A' game, that was his first real action since the injury, so for him to make such an impact is a credit to him.

Any time you win a game like that in the last minute it really adds to the occasion, but the other side of it is that if we lost we would have really beaten ourselves up about it. Looking back on it now, we were good in areas, but we could have been a lot better.

But there is no point dwelling on the past, it's all about Rabo again this week and Scarlets are going well again this season. They are a lot like the rest of the Welsh lads, up front they are really competitive and combative.

Coming to Musgrave Park they'll be looking to do a number on us -- they beat us well this time last year in Cork, so they won't be daunted by facing us there, especially with all their Welsh internationals back in place. I saw them play well against Leinster at the RDS and even in the Heineken Cup against Clermont they were in decent form too.

We are looking at the three Pro12 games over the Christmas and New Year as a block and we are hoping to take three wins from that. But we need to get off to a good start. With a win like the one we had in Perpignan behind us, often times you can get a little distracted so it is important that we are 100pc focused on the Rabo. The Heineken Cup is parked for now.

Rob has put a huge focus on the league this year -- we know how important it is to everyone after last year, so we are extra keen to get a win tomorrow.

And after that, Connacht will be a right tough game too. That win in Toulouse was amazing and they'll take great confidence from that. It was a pity to see the flu decimate them for the return game, but we know what kind of form they are capable of producing. I imagine they will want to show their European results are no flash in the pan and they'll be keen to turn us over too.

There is a chance that I could be facing my old buddy Sean Henry in that one, we are both looking forward to that. We came up through the ranks in UL Bohs, the academy and U-20s, as well as the Munster seniors, so we are good mates. We would both relish the chance to face each other I'd say.

Christmas is a bit different for us lads. While we are encouraged to keep our carb intake high, we'd be conscious of not overdoing it on the turkey and chocolate.

You just have to watch yourself. It is easy to fall into the trap, everyone else has free time around Christmas, but it is a busy period for us.

Last season we lost a couple of games around this time which didn't do our Rabo hopes much good. We are determined not to do that this year.

Irish Independent

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