Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

McGahan pleased to end on a high

Tony McGahan

Munster gave themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the Amlin Challenge Cup with a 28-14 victory over London Irish in their final Heineken Cup Pool Three clash, but coach Tony McGahan was just pleased to see his side restore some pride with the bonus-point success.

Damien Varley, Niall Ronan, Keith Earls and replacement Darragh Hurley all crossed for second-half tries as the two-time Heineken Cup champions eased the pain of last weekend's defeat at Toulon, which condemned them to a pool-stage exit for the first time in 13 years.

"We were playing for our lives really," said McGahan. "We were playing at home with a tremendous record, which has been gained over a long period of time with a lot of guts, spirit and passion. We certainly weren't ready to give that up. With our record at home it was important that we gave a performance."

He added: "It's been a tough week and although this result doesn't mask previous performances on the road, it certainly leaves a lot to build on.

"The Amlin Challenge Cup certainly wasn't our driving force. We didn't speak about it or hang our hat on it. Our driving force was getting a result here at home and all that that entails. The next stage was always about these 80 minutes, and trying to get some, though not all, redemption from last week."

For London Irish, meanwhile, there is no prospect of Amlin Challenge Cup rugby to look forward to, and it's very much a case of going back to the grind for the Exiles, who lie mid-table in the Aviva Premiership having not registered a league win since October.

Their coach Toby Booth was nevertheless satisfied that his side had learned from their unsuccessful European venture. His only regret being that Irish had been drawn in the 'pool of death', which also included Toulon and the Ospreys.

"I wasn't actually at the draw. I was on holidays and when the message came through, I thought I had been drinking," he quipped.

"Munster were top seeds in tier one, the Ospreys were seeded top of tier two, we were seeded top of tier three, and Toulon were top seeds of tier four.

"Mathematically you can't get any tougher than that. Whether that is right or wrong, that is the situation. That is the luck of the draw I'm afraid."

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