Thursday 18 January 2018

O'Mahony insists Reds must come out swinging

Munster captain Peter O'Mahony knows Edinburgh will push his team all the way
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony knows Edinburgh will push his team all the way
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

WHEN June rolls around and the end-of-season reviews are done, it is likely that a Saturday afternoon in October will loom large on the minds of Munster and Edinburgh.

The Scottish side's win at Murrayfield immediately plunged Rob Penney's side's quarter-final prospects into real doubt, while it appears to have spurred the home side to a new level.

Alan Solomons' charges failure to pick up a bonus point against Perpignan last weekend means that a Challenge Cup spot is all that's available for them this weekend as they come to Thomond Park, but few would have seen them finishing above the French side and Gloucester when the draw for Pool 6 was made last summer.

Munster, meanwhile, responded by going on a run of 10 wins in 11 games. The doom and gloom that surrounded them as they left the cavernous Scottish national stadium three months ago is long forgotten as they achieved qualification with a week to spare.

Back at Thomond Park for another of those annoying early lunchtime kick-offs on Sunday, the Reds have an outside shot of booking a Limerick date for their last-eight clash. But, they will back themselves on the road, if needs be, as they did at Harlequins last April and away to Gloucester last weekend.

But the fact that attaining a home quarter-final is beyond their control is due to that afternoon in Scotland when things went horribly wrong as JJ Hanrahan's chip was collected by Tim Visser and Munster's hopes faded in front of their eyes.

They lost Simon Zebo that day when he left the field with a broken foot and the road to qualification seemed steep. At best, the hopes were that they would go into Sunday's game with a shot at going through. Instead, they regained control of their own destiny with wins over Gloucester and Perpignan and now it is a matter of where the quarter-final will take place.

Despite their form -- winning six of their last 10 games, losing in Perpignan and at home to Gloucester -- ultimately wrecking Edinburgh's chances, they still have something to play for.

Former Ulster coach Solomons has built a side with a blend of Scotland internationals and hardened South African imports. After hitting rock bottom in the season following their 2012 European semi-final, they appear to be on the up again.

"They have shown enough form over the last couple of months to show they are certainly a team that is building," Munster captain Peter O'Mahony said.


"There is huge ramifications for us and them, seeding for the Amlin for them, so I don't think there is going to be anybody holding back.

"The game plan they have it isn't overly flashy, but they are very comfortable with it and very effective at it. That's the direction they are going, they look to keep it simple and it is very tough to defend against at times when they get you where they want you.

"It is going to be tough and we know it, because there will be a huge physicality to the game on Sunday. They have a couple of huge ball carriers, not only in the backs, but in the forwards as well and we are going to have to stop them at source."

The other factor Munster must deal with is the kick-off time, even if it is something they are having to get used to more and more this season.

"It's hard enough to adjust to. It's a tougher morning, but I think you just have to prepare during the week, get out of the scratcher earlier and get into your day a bit earlier. Some fellas do it differently, but it is probably practising getting a big meal in earlier in the day," O'Mahony explained of the routine involved which involves forcing a combination of pasta, chicken and potatoes into the system at an unreasonable hour.

"We would be up at about 7.30, have a stretch at some stage -- breakfast first, obviously -- but some guys give breakfast a skip and have a bigger lunch, some guys have medium-sized for both. It's personal.

"The pre-match meal, which is full grub, is at about 9.0 or 9.30. It's tough going alright, but all pre-match meals (for me) feel the same, they're horrible. It's just nerves, you're full as it is, but you're trying to stuff your face, so it's not pretty."

Irish Independent

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