Sunday 21 January 2018

Sean O’Brien: Victory snatched away in 30 seconds

Sean O'Brien gets his off-load away while being tackled by New Zealand's Andrew Hore
Sean O'Brien gets his off-load away while being tackled by New Zealand's Andrew Hore

The Tullow tank was still coming terms with Ireland’s failure to exorcise their New Zealand demons and how they managed to lose a game with 30 seconds remaining on the clock.

Sean O’Brien couldn’t mask his disappointment when receiving his man of the match award in Ireland’s agonising 22-24 defeat to the All Blacks and his mood had changed little in 24 hours.

Speaking on the Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM this morning, Sean O’Brien refused to point fingers of blame but believes the team must learn from the experience as a collective.

“It’s a team game and we as a group need to know how to close out a game like that,” he said.

“We had the ball at 79:30, so in 30 seconds we lost the game.

“If we can take the good out of it and look forward.

“I think we know what’s expected of us when we put on an Irish jersey but I think it’s dealing with how to finish off a team when we get a lead like we did yesterday, especially against the world class teams like the All Blacks.

“You can’t give them a sniff because they’ll take it if you do.

“We’ve to learn and move on from that.

“Our intensity in the first half was incredible and it’s hard to sustain that for a full game.”

The 26-year-old was not all doom and gloom and believes if Ireland can harness the positives from yesterday’s display that rewards will come.

“On days like yesterday you have to look for some good in it as well. Our intensity and our effort can’t go unnoticed,” he added.

“And it was pleasing that we were able to play to such a level.

“It’s about believing in ourselves and moving on and trying to take a step forward.

“There was a lot of pride in the jersey yesterday and a lot emotion. Irish teams when they bring that. We’re incredibly dangerous and we need to bring that every day we go out and we won’t be far away from trophies.”

Another important development from the defeat for O’Brien was the atmosphere generated at the Aviva and he hopes that the cauldron effect continues into the future at the Dublin 4 venue.

“I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like that in the Aviva and it’s the first time I’ve felt the crowd was behind us to be honest, in a long, long time and we need that every time we play at home,” he said.

“It was great and we probably gave them a bit to shout about as well.

“It’s a good feeling to have that kind of support behind you as well but unfortunately the result didn’t go are way.”

Yesterday’ s performance was as close as Ireland have ever come to beating the All Blacks and O’Brien revealed that the Irish team has always felt that the Kiwis were fallible.

“We’ve known this for quite a while. I kept thinking to myself yesterday that it’s man against man and if you win those battles you’re nearly there,” he said.

“It shows the belief that they have in themselves of playing to the last seconds of a game and winning a game.

“We need to get to a place where we can compete for 80 minutes and not for 79-and-a-half minutes.”

The back-row juggernaut always writes Jim on his wrist-strapping and revealed that it is in honour of a member of Tullow Rugby Club who passed away 18 months ago from cancer.

“Jim was like a second father to me, he was a fella in Tullow Rugby Club at home. He brought me to my first rugby game and looked after the club when it was in bad times,” he revealed.

“He’s one of these characters who is very close to me and that I’ll never forget.

“I just write that down on my wrist every time so when the going gets tough you look for things sometimes and he is one of the fellas who I always enjoy being around.”

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