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'It's obviously very disappointing. But credit to Leinster, they kept coming'

Tipperary man Donnacha Ryan was on the losing side in Bilbao today.

Dejected: Donnacha Ryan.
Dejected: Donnacha Ryan.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

HUMBLE IN VICTORY, gracious in defeat.

The latter couldn’t be more fitting for Donnacha Ryan. Although just coming to terms with a 15-12 Champions Cup final defeat to Leinster as he limped across the pitch, the Tipperary man gave a classy post-match interview.

Ryan was immense at the heart of Racing 92′s engine room, with the Paris outfit delivering an impressive performance just to be edged out at the death in Bilbao.

The legendary Isa Nacewa bowed out on a high, slotting two penalties in the closing 10 minutes to take Leinster in front, and ultimately to their fourth European star.

“It’s very disappointing,” Ryan told BT Sport afterwards.

“We thought we had a bit of control with 10 minutes to go. Just discipline let us down, a lack of communication in defence — we needed to work harder to get back in defence.

“But, it’s a credit to Leinster, they kept coming. Ball retention was very, very good. We just needed to be a bit more technical in those areas, but very disappointing.”

The 34-year-old had no time for excuses, stressing that it was their discipline in the closing stages which lost the game for them despite injury blows.

Dan Carter was ruled out of the fixture completely shortly before kick-off, with Remi Tales taking his place on the bench.

And with just three minutes on the clock, Tales was called to action to replace the injured Pat Lambie.

“Aye, absolutely, aye,” Ryan responded, when asked if losing Lambie disrupted their plans. “But Remi came in there and did a great job.

“It was obviously difficult conditions and stuff. He wouldn’t have had that many reps during the week. They’re no excuses as well. We’ve been playing together all year.

“As I said, in the last 10 minutes we still had control but unfortunately discipline let us down and there’s no excuse for that.”

He added, of Leinster: “They have a high ball retention rate, I think it’s in the high 90s so we had to attack their breakdown and we probably did that for the most part of the game. But we have to keep doing it for 80 minutes and we didn’t do it.

“Look, it was obviously very disappointing. But credit to Leinster, they haven’t lost a game all season. They’re obviously champions.”

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Emma Duffy

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