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O'Mahony far from happy with display but insists Ireland are 'not far away'

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Peter O’Mahony congratulates Keith Earls after scoring Ireland’s third try. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O’Mahony congratulates Keith Earls after scoring Ireland’s third try. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O’Mahony congratulates Keith Earls after scoring Ireland’s third try. Photo: Sportsfile

The Ireland skipper was man of the match and if that was slightly harsh on Italian scrum-half Tito Tebaldi, it was certainly fair to say Peter O'Mahony was the best of the Irish players on the pitch.

O'Mahony rarely looks too happy when he's put in front of the cameras and for most of yesterday's post-match press conference he sat quietly alongside Joe Schmidt, digesting the performance just gone.

Ireland know they haven't come anywhere close to the standards they set in November, they're fully aware of the deep concern that has set in amongst fans who are still struggling to understand the fall-off since an incredible November.

Yes, they secured a bonus-point win away from home but the lack of flow in their game is too patently obvious to deny.

They are dropping balls that always stuck before, their lineout creaked in Rory Best's absence and their breakdown work was below where they normally expect it to be.

"We struggled at times to be cohesive," the captain said when a question came his way. "There was certainly some good attacking play being put through but a lot of times it ended up in unforced errors.

"That was something we spoke about before the game, trying to be more cohesive and there were times we were, just not enough.

"I said to a few of the lads afterwards, I was here in 2013, it's difficult to win away from home in this competition. It's so competitive.

"To get five points away from home, I was proud of the way the lads handled the second-half. We were under the pump, under pressure coming in at half-time.

"We were composed, we got clear messages that we implemented to a certain degree in the second-half.

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"But, look, there's plenty for us to work on, I'm not going to sit here and say we're delighted with the performance."

They now have another weekend off before France come to Dublin when they'll attempt to put together a display that meets their own exacting standards.

"Look, we know it's there. We know we're not far off," O'Mahony said.

"We've just got to figure out what we need to do to unlock it a little bit.

"It isn't from a lack of trying. Guys are working hard. They're working hard in training to put it right and try to get our combinations right.

"Another two weeks together, we'll get away for a few hours on Monday and get back in later in the week and get our heads together and try and get it sorted."

Schmidt admitted his relief at the five-point win that keeps Ireland's faint hopes of retaining their title alive, but he wasn't sugar-coating the display.

Ireland's lineout was a particular issue and Seán Cronin will ship most of the blame.

"They contested really well," Schmidt said.

"I think it's the first time we've had that combination. I think the very first line-out of the game doesn't help if you don't hit the first one.

Pressure

"We're up alone in the air and we over-throw it and from there on you're always feeling a sense of pressure and it doesn't help.

"You want to get your confidence early in the game and particularly on big occasions, because for a few players today it was a really big occasion."

A number of players are still playing their way into form, with Conor Murray still well below his best.

"I think Conor is still trying to find his feet. There's a bit of a risk for Conor that he tries too hard," Schmidt said.

"He's frustrated that it's not the smooth running machine that he normally is, he's obviously frustrated to get pick-pocketed (by Tebaldi)... He's frustrated about a few things. I thought he kicked some really nice kicks and on the back of that I'm hoping that he gets his confidence back.

"I think he's going to keep building, France will be another opportunity for him all things being equal."


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