By Tadhg Peavoy
Munster captain Paul O’Connell was happy with his team’s performance against Ospreys in their Magners League semi-final victory, but is under no illusions about the task that awaits his side ahead of their clash with Leinster in the competition’s final.
RTÉ’s Clare McNamara asked O’Connell why Munster dominated the match, but not the scoreboard. O’Connell responded: ‘It’s hard to tell. I thought we had a lot more territory, a lot more possession and we were doing things very well.
‘I suppose to finish only 18-11 was a bit disappointing considering how much ball we had. I think we were very patient in the first half and we ran out a little bit of patience in the second half and turned over a few silly balls.
‘I think it was a very good performance really and I think against Harlequins [in the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final] we started very badly and hashed a few of our lines early on and we just didn’t want to do that. We were very direct and patient early on and it worked for us.’
O’Connell also praised Man of the Match Danny Barnes for his two-try performance, saying: ‘We’ve got a lot of good young players with a very good attitude coming through and he [Barnes] epitomised it today. He was direct, very strong. [He's a] very skilful player and a very fast player, but he adds a lot of physicality to his game, which is always great from a young guy, when you get a young guy coming into the team and leading the physical exchanges like that. So he was brilliant for us today and was last week [against Connacht] as well.’
When pressed on how much pressure Munster were under coming into the clash, O’Connell was typically cool: ‘We were probably under a bit of pressure, you know. We haven’t played fabulously well at times. It’s a good sign that we’re under pressure even though we did so well in the Magners League, obviously we had a very disappointing display here in the semi-final of the Amlin Cup against Harlequins and our Heineken [Cup] form is very disappointing as well So, that adds pressure to it.
'At the same time we’ve got a lot of good young players coming through and with a bit of a leadership role as well and that’s very important for us. And we’re through to the final of the Magners.
‘We stumbled at our last few semi-finals and we needed a win and we needed a performance today and I think we got both.’
O’Connell also looked forward to the Magners League final against the possible Heineken Cup champions Leinster: ‘Probably as Heineken Cup champions, it’s going to be very tough for us. They’re playing great rugby at the moment. They’re an incredibly strong side with a very strong squad and it’s going to be tough for us, but we’ve two weeks to prepare and we’ll give it our best shot.’