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Van Graan: ‘We came here to win but currently no team can get past Leinster’

Munster coach also reveals that captain Peter O’Mahony is ‘struggling’ following a cut to his leg. Munster play Toulouse in the Champions Cup next week.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER COACH JOHANN Van Graan offered no excuses in the aftermath of his team’s failure to end their trophy famine.

It is becoming a familiar theme – Leinster winning trophies; Munster collecting hard-luck stories. To Van Graan’s credit, he accepted the better team won, pointing to their dominance in the air and in the scrum as key factors in their 16-6 win.

“Currently no team can get past them,” said Van Graan afterwards. “Now, that’s not good enough for us to lose in a final. We came here to win and we had belief that we could, but fair play to them they’ve won four PRO14s in a row.

“They’re an exceptionally good team. If you’ve got 15 players, I think it was, in this 23 that played against England last weekend, well that depth is impressive. If you just look at the squad that they had, they’re a phenomenal rugby team.

“You have to give it to them; they’re currently the best team by a mile in this league.”

Munster remain in the chasing pack and now turn their eyes to Europe. But will they have their captain, Peter O’Mahony, for that game?

“He’s struggling a bit,” Van Graan said. “He’s got a deep cut to his leg so we will obviously know a bit more later; but yeah, it didn’t look good.”

tadhg-beirne-after-the-game-with-luke-mcgrath Tadhg Beirne is dejected after the game. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Nor, for Munster, does another defeat to Leinster. This was their sixth in a row to their old rivals.

“At half-time, we talked about getting more of the ball and if you look at how we started the second half, we kept the ball in hand and then knocked it on. They got a scrum penalty from that, got access to our 22 and once they get there, it is very difficult to keep them out.

“So, from a Leinster point of view, they kept us pinned just outside our 22 for large periods of the game, and won a couple of big battles. They won the battle in the air and won the battle in the scrum.

“We just couldn’t get access to their 22.

“In terms of playing, we didn’t get a chance to do so.

“Once they get access to your 22, it is virtually impossible to get the ball off them.

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“And what you have to give Leinster credit for is that once they go ahead, it is virtually impossible to catch them.

“You saw the last two passages of the game. You try and play from deep and you literally get knocked back onto your own tryline.

“As disappointing as that is, it is something they do exceptionally well.”

Munster captain, O’Mahony, added: “We struggled to get the ball.

“We had mid-30s per cent possession in the first-half and we didn’t have much more in the second. We needed to impose ourselves on the game and we struggled to do that.
“Leinster put us under a huge amount of pressure with the way they play; we struggled to contain them defensively. Fair play, they played very well today and I thought they were the better team.

“The way we’ve been playing, we like to get into other team’s ’22 and when we do we’re good, but we didn’t get the access today and that’s probably a credit to Leinster.

“We’ll have a long two days, it’s going to hurt. We’ve Europe next week, we’ll take our two days and get back in Monday, Tuesday and get on with the big week ahead, no different to Leinster, and battle on.”

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Garry Doyle

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