MUNSTER CAPTAIN PETER O’Mahony was happy to help his team to victory against Gloucester in Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup yesterday, regardless of the performance.
While the 24-year-old accepted that it wasn’t Munster’s most polished display, he was content to get back to winning ways following the loss to Edinburgh in round one.
For the Cork man, the honour of leading Munster out as captain for the first time in the Heineken Cup meant it was a special occasion.
“It felt good running out. We were in a good place leaving the dressing room and it felt good coming out alright. It’s a big honour. Anthony Foley asked me to sign a ball there afterwards and it had all the previous Munster captains for a good bit on it. It hit home a little bit, just signing it beside a couple of big names. It was nice, but obviously the win tonight was vital.”
Having missed out last weekend at Murrayfield, O’Mahony was happy to be back on the pitch and says he was raring to get involved. That was clearly evident in this man of the match performance.
I was chomping at the bit to get back into it after last week. I thought I was ok, I was happy enough. But there’s plenty of stuff for the squad to be working on. Obviously, for me personally I’ve plenty to be working on myself.”
O’Mahony’s leadership is constantly developing and he had a number of difficult decisions to make when Munster were awarded penalties inside the Gloucester half. Twice in the second half, he elected to go for the posts and feels he made the right calls.
“I think the important thing with those two decisions was to get the win, you know? One of them was to go nine points up and that’s obviously hugely important.”
O’Mahony was the man of the match last night. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
Johne Murphy’s 66th minute try came as a relief to O’Mahony and his teammates, and the Munster captain was quick to highlight the skill involved in Ian Keatley’s assist.
“That kick from Keats was on the money, it was beautiful, beautifully-timed. That just took a weight off our shoulders at that stage, you could physically see it in the boys. Because we were tense, it was a big game for us and it was important for us to come out and show our fans exactly how much it means to us.”
That wonderful score aside, Munster did at times struggle to impose themselves on the Premiership side, but O’Mahony pointed out Gloucester’s virtues.
“Credit where credit’s due, they’d a good defence. I think to be fair to Gloucester, they covered their back field fairly well. I think we had a couple of silly mistakes at times, handling errors.
“We talked about playing territory in the second half and I think we didn’t get the ball in our hands enough and we messed around a couple of times. We had a couple of good turnovers which led to being held up. That hampered our progress a bit.”
Despite a first win in the tournament, O’Mahony knows Munster are a long way from being in a comfortable position in Pool 6. The focus returns to the Pro12 now, but the Heineken Cup will remain in their thoughts.
“We know that we have our backs to the wall with regards to this competition. Home games are non-negotiable and we’ve to pick up away wins now as a result of last weekend [Edinburgh]. We talked about it this week, that it’s hugely important to us. We put in a performance that we were happy enough with, but we’ve a couple of big weeks ahead of us now.”
Audio courtesy of Aoife Danagher.