Belfast Telegraph

Furlong out to end season on a high


David Kelly

By David Kelly

Last November, Tadhg Furlong's Ireland were on the crest of a giant wave; soon it would crash them against the rocks of uncertainty.

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Leinster, conquerors of all in 2018, may end up empty-handed should Glasgow defeat them tonight.

"I tell you what, the year has gone incredibly fast," says the tighthead prop.

"And it is mad when you think back and we started the year on such a high with the November series and then Christmas with the Champions Cup.

"The thing about sport is that what happens is in the past. You move on so quickly and it tends not to stick in your brain.

"It's always forward-focused with a glance in the rear-view mirror to see what lessons we can take from losses or down.

"I found the year fairly enjoyable because I have played a fair bit of rugby. I haven't had any major knocks or niggles where you are spending time in rehab.

"I'm feeling fresh and that is a nice place to be coming in to the final game of the season."

As he looks around the dressing-room this evening before kick-off, he will miss his old mucker Seán O'Brien, absent for the last time in such an intimate space.

"It's so much experience, isn't it?" Furlong says of O'Brien. "Twelve years in Leinster now, and everything he's contributed.

"On the pitch you've seen what he's like, in the dressing-room, team meetings and leadership, you can't look past the impact Seánie has had on the growth of the game within Leinster.

"When I was underage he was playing with Leinster even then.

"New Ross and Tullow would know each other well in the south-east.

"I would be at games with my aul' fella and people would be, 'How's O'Brien getting on at Leinster?' and, 'Will he make it?'

"And, by God, did he make it!

"He was exceptional, European Player of the Year one time. I wasn't here for that but know he has played well on Lions tours.

"I suppose the way he carries himself, he is great craic, he is great for the group, what he put out on the field was top notch.

"And then the impact he had on fellas from around the south-east, from regional rugby teams, has been massive, almost as influential as what he has done on the field."

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