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Munster have spirit to hit back: O'Mahony

By Cian Tracey

The last few weeks have been eventful for Peter O'Mahony and, having committed his future to his home province, the last thing he would have wanted is for the gap between his Munster team and Leinster to be exposed in their own backyard.

Johann van Graan was quick to point to the work that Munster have to do to catch Leinster as he recalled the six-point margin of defeat back in October, before Boxing Day's 10-point beating at Thomond Park.

It's a fair reflection of where both teams stand at this stage of the season, but Munster supporters won't lose sight of the fact that their new head coach barely has his feet under the table, and his baptism of fire continues at Kingspan Stadium on Monday against Ulster.

"He took a bit of a back seat this week to get to know everybody and get to know the systems," Van Graan said of JP Ferreira, who has joined Munster from the Lions in South Africa.

"He's very disappointed with the result going against us in his first game but, like I've said before and I'll say again in times to come, this is a team game.

"We as a team take responsibility, especially for that first 40 in which we were not good enough at all. Even in the second 40 there are one or two errors that we can improve upon."

Despite the coaching shake-up, losing to Leinster is never easy to stomach, especially at home, but O'Mahony accepts that their old foes are now the team to beat.

"Yeah, they are. I'm very impressed with them," he admitted. "They're always a very good side and you know every year it's difficult. You know it's always a big game and they've proved over how good they are.

"To come out this week and put a performance in like that in the first 40 is impressive.

"Look, there's always something special about derbies, and you never want to lose one, so yeah, it's difficult."

There are many reasons why O'Mahony rejected more lucrative moves in favour of remaining on these shores.

But the 28-year old lives and breathes Munster Rugby so, naturally, any time they lose he feels a deep sense of responsibility.

"The supporters come out and spend a lot of money to see you play and we expect to win," he insisted.

"We expect to win every single game we play, but to lose at home is disappointing and it's disappointing in the fashion we showed in the first 40 minutes."

A trip to Belfast on New Year's Day lies ahead as both teams look to bounce back from disappointing interpro defeats.

O'Mahony is likely to be rested for the clash against Ulster, but he will be a central figure in the review process as his team look to figure out what went wrong in Limerick.

Munster paid the price for a sloppy first half that was littered with errors but the confidence within the dressing room was strong enough to mount a comeback that ultimately came up short.

"It's hard to put my finger on it now," O'Mahony said.

"I'll have to look back but it just felt like we didn't get any bounce of the ball.

"Ah, that's unfair, they played very well, their game-plan was very effective and we struggled to get down on the 50/50s, we just struggled to contain them.

"It's disappointing, but you have to go out and get a foothold and we did that and scored two tries quite quickly. If we rock up in the right frame of mind, you know we can do damage.

"But if you let a team like that get away from you, it's very difficult even with two tries after half-time.

"There are battles in lots of games you win and lose and we seemed to lose a lot of big ones."

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