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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

O'Mahony enjoying chances to show 'the skills and the football' for Ireland

The Munster man is often tasked with holding width in Ireland’s attacking shape.

THERE WAS THAT superb assist for Bundee Aki against Italy to remind us all that Peter O’Mahony has a fair amount of skill.


With Tadhg Beirne having made an excellent turnover just outside the Italian 22, quick hands gave O’Mahony a little time on the ball and he came up with a creative solution to send Aki accelerating away to beat the last defender.

Then, on a disappointing day at Twickenham in the Autumn Nations Cup, O’Mahony had another flash of skill as he rolled a grubber kick along the right-hand touchline and regathered it to put Ireland in a good position.


And then in Ireland’s final game of the autumn campaign, O’Mahony was even more prominent out wide, his pass sending Keith Earls over for a try in the left corner, while the flanker was denied one himself in the right corner.


Ireland fans will remember O’Mahony’s disgruntled protests at that possible score being chalked off but the man himself enjoyed having the opportunity to show some of his ability out wide during Ireland’s autumn run.

The 31-year-old’s role within Ireland’s attacking framework very often means his designated role is to hold width for the team.

When the ball doesn’t come in his direction, it usually leads to accusations of O’Mahony going missing from games, but when play flows his way, the Cork man is able to show he is about more than just lineout and breakdown work.

“The ‘playing rugby’ part is my actual favourite part of playing the game,” said O’Mahony today ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales on Sunday.

“It’s the skills and the football, and it is enjoyable to be able to show what you can do.

“We thought about positional play and strike play and that kind of thing and that’s something that we have built on in the last 12 months since we have been in here, since the start of the last campaign. It has to be something that we have to build on moving forward.

“I enjoy the way we are playing at the moment and that isn’t saying that there isn’t a lot of hard work to be done because a lot underpins the backs’ strike plays that you see. It’s nice to get that blend.”

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O’Mahony’s form with Munster since last autumn has been good, so the expectation is that he will once again be part of the Ireland back row that starts in Cardiff on Sunday. 

peter-omahony-scores-a-try-that-was-later-disallowed O'Mahony in action against Scotland in December. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

It remains to be seen whether O’Mahony wears the number six or seven jersey, with CJ Stander set to shift back to number eight after the unfortunate concussion-related injury for Caelan Doris. 

“Caelan has been one of the outstanding Irish players in the last 18 months,” said O’Mahony. “I’ve been beyond impressed with him, particularly his footballing skills.

“He’s certainly a big loss, but there’s guys there who are hungry. We demand that when someone goes down, someone else is there and it’s as seamless as possible. That’s the way it has to be in international rugby. You can’t be waiting for people.”

One of Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Will Connors, or Tadhg Beirne is set to come into the Ireland back row alongside O’Mahony and Stander for what should be a battle royale against a strong Welsh crop in Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright and the returning Dan Lydiate.

“It’s hard to pick weaknesses in their games, but it is hard to pick weaknesses in any back rows internationally at the moment,” said O’Mahony. “You’re talking about playing against four of the best back rowers around at the moment and that seems to be the way every week”

Ireland’s focus is on ensuring their own house is in order and in that sense, all eyes will be on the lineout and maul – which had some damaging issues over the autumn.

Paul O’Connell has since come on board as forwards coach but O’Mahony insists his former Munster and Ireland team-mate has solid foundations to build on.

“Before he arrived, I think our lineout was in a good spot, so he’s added nicely the bits he had picked up on that we can marry up with the work we had done and bring the whole thing forward,” said O’Mahony.

“He’s had a very positive effect. You have all seen what Paulie stood for and how he played, his knowledge of the game. He was passing on some of that priceless stuff to us already and it has been very enjoyable to have him around.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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