Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Magners will do nicely: O’Driscoll

Brian O'Driscoll would love to win the Magners League Grand Final on Saturday against Ospreys

Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has given the Magners League a huge endorsement ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final.

O’Driscoll, whose Leinster side face Ospreys at the RDS, believes that success in this weekend’s domestic showpiece will go a long way towards compensating for last season’s Heineken Cup winners’ failure to retain that title.

Toulouse, who won the 2010 Heineken Cup by beating Biarritz in last weekend’s all-French final at Stade de France, eliminated Leinster in the penultimate round on May 1.

O’Driscoll is anxious to move on following that disappointment and he believes Saturday provides a chance to do that.

“The Heineken Cup tournament cannot be the be-all-and-end-all of any season for us as players,” he said.

“Sure it’s our priority and I'm not trying to downgrade the huge disappointment we felt in losing the semi-final.

“But you have to be pragmatic. We reached the penultimate stage of the competition in trying to defend our title and lost out to the eventual winners.”

Stressing the importance of Saturday evening’s final in which he and a number of his Leinster team mates will come face to face with Irish colleague Tommy Bowe, O’Driscoll underlined what success would mean to his side.

“The Magners League is our bread and butter in terms of a league format and no-one is going to feel short-changed if we manage to win our third trophy in three seasons on Saturday,” he said. “Trust me when I say this matters a great deal to us as players. We have worked hard to get to a final and (now) we require one more high quality performance.”

Saturday will also see the end of the professional careers of Leinster legends Malcolm O’Kelly, Girvan Dempsey and Bernard Jackman, each of whom is retiring.

They have been lynchpins in Leinster’s success in recent years, witness a total of 445 caps between them.

O’Kelly, who has made 182 Leinster appearances is the daddy of them all, with Dempsey close behind with 172. Jackman has donned his province’s blue jersey 91 times.

This weekend also sees the end of the road for prop CJ van der Linde, who is likely to return to South Africa, and scrum-half Chris Keane.

And it’s going to provide an opportunity for four non-playing members of the squad to exit on a high in front of a capacity RDS audience.

In acknowledging the roles those men have played O’Driscoll said: “We'd like to send Cheiks (coach Michael Cheika), Riff (assistant coach Alan Gaffney), Whits (manager Chris Whitaker) and Kurt (defence coach McQuilkin) off in style.”