Six Nations: Time to finish job – O'Mahony
Flanker urges fellow young guns to emulate Grand Slam heroes
Peter O'Mahony has called on Ireland's new generation to make all their hard work worthwhile by claiming the Six Nations title tonight as Brian O'Driscoll bids farewell to the international arena.
A year on from being forced to play on the wing as Ireland's championship ended in a historic defeat to Italy and a fifth-placed finish, the Munster captain wants to complete the remarkable turnaround in what he described as the "biggest week of my career".
Ireland go into today's final round of games top of the table; victory in Paris will secure the trophy unless England pull off a massive win in Italy in the day's first game and make up the 49 points which separate the teams this morning.
O'Mahony (right) is one of 17 members of the squad who were not involved in the 2009 Grand Slam.
Yesterday, he recalled watching that dramatic Cardiff endgame at the home of today's replacement out-half Ian Madigan after they had returned from Wales having played for the Ireland U-20s alongside three more of today's squad, Jack McGrath, Dave Kearney and Conor Murray.
And, as Ireland prepare for a changing of the guard and life after O'Driscoll, the Corkman wants the younger players to make the most of their opportunity.
"It's mad, because it is the bones of the same team that finished fifth last year. That is probably why it hurt so much because we knew that we were a very capable side," he said.
"It has been a combination of things. We have trained very well. Guys realise to win championships you have to do a bit more than what the normal professional player does.
"You have to spend a bit more time, it's not just the two hours, three hours a day that you are called upon that you are under the video, under the spotlight.
"It's the other hours outside of the training pitch, the mental strength. It is hard to put a finger on it, but it is a good place to be at the moment, and hopefully we can continue that.
"The coaching staff, the player group... we're all in this together and we take as much as you can.
"Joe (Schmidt), John (Plumtree) and Les (Kiss) work to try and put us in the best place possible on a Saturday. We always say we're not individuals, it's very important to be a collective group and very important for everyone to be singing off the same hymn-sheet. It's a big collective thing and it's important for everyone to be performing."
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has devised different tactics for each of the four games in the campaign to date, but O'Mahony warned that Ireland will keep it simple as they look to win at a venue where they have won just once since 1972.
"We're four games in, you have seen the style of rugby that we are trying to play, positive game plan, trying to be very disciplined and try to attack with the ball," he said.
"I don't think we have to hide what we are about. We have to try and minimise when we are vulnerable and maximise when we are being hugely effective. That's what we're about. We haven't talked about us being special, we haven't talked about this game being anything other than what it is: it's a cup final for us.
"It's about getting our job roles right. That is what we have talked about. Since you were small, you want to play in games like this for trophies, it's why you play and the reason the game is so great – to compete for trophies and compete in games like this."
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.