Belfast Telegraph

Hero O’Gara hails Munster’s mettle

Ronan O'Gara believes Munster's march into the Heineken Cup semi-finals proves their obituary had been written too soon.

The 2006 and 2008 champions faced questions over whether they are a fading force in European rugby in the build-up to Saturday's showdown with Northampton at Thomond Park.

But they responded with an emphatic 33-19 victory, inspired by O'Gara, to set up a last-four appointment with Biarritz next month.

“It's a different competition and that's the key point. This is our competition which we thrive on and we love,” said the Ireland fly-half (pictured right with Lifeimi Mafi). “Look at our record in it — we have consistently produced and that's a fact. It's not up for dispute.

“Now we're in a semi-final and we're knocking on the door once again. That's what pleases me so much — that consistency year to year.”

Munster had lost just once at Thomond Park in 15 years of European rugby but Saints were convinced they could put a dent in that proud record. Upping the ante for an ageing team that cherishes the Heineken Cup above all else was the previous weekend's home defeat by fierce rivals Leinster — a result that hinted they could be in decline.

“It was a huge game for us. We were under pressure because we were coming into the match on the back of a defeat,” said O'Gara. “We put a lot of effort into Leinster but came up short. After that you're never too sure what will happen. What's most pleasing is that we have a cup mentality that brings out the best in us.

Doug Howlett crossed for two tries while Paul Warwick and Jean de Villiers also touched down, but it was O'Gara's day.

Belfast Telegraph


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