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Dublin: 4 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Paul O'Connell may have to start wearing Peter O'Mahony pyjamas

The Munster captain has now delivered three huge performances on the spin for his country.

Peter O'Mahony slaps five with an Ireland fan after Saturday's win over Wales.
Peter O'Mahony slaps five with an Ireland fan after Saturday's win over Wales.
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

THE ONLY GRUMBLES that came after Peter O’Mahony’s omission from the Lions squad, last April, emanated from Ireland.

The Munster captain was seen, in England, Wales and Scotland, as a promising and passionate performer but one just shy of world-class standard. Having dominated the Scots’ mammoth back row in the Six Nations opener, the Irish flanker gnawed at Wales until they snapped. In a game that featured Lions back-rows Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau, Justin Tipuric and Jamie Heaslip, O’Mahony stood head and shoulders above them all.

O’Mahony won three turnovers for his team, claimed four lineouts, laid in eight tackles, grubber kicked smartly and mauled with the best of them. Heaslip edged him out for man of the match against Scotland but this was a no-contest decision.

Wales coach Warren Gatland was asked, after witnessing his side lose 26-3, how much the Cork native has improved since he missed out on last year’s flight to Australia. “I thought he was good on the last couple of times I saw him play. He’s excellent on the ball.

You can never underestimate the passion that any Munster player brings to a side. He definitely displays that. You see him when he sings the national anthem. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s playing exceptionally well at the moment… I’m very impressed with him.”

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell described his provincial and international teammate as incredible. He added, “I’ve probably known Peter since he was about 18. He’s always had big leadership attributes about him. He’s a little bit like a David Wallace. He’s a very powerful guy and has probably taken a small bit of time to accumulate the fitness levels required.”

imageO’Connell and David Wallace played together with Munster and Ireland for over a decade. INPHO/Billy Stickland

O’Connell continued, “With those sort of powerful guys, sometimes it takes a little bit longer than the likes of myself [pause for laughter]. I think he’s added fitness to all the other attributes he has. He’s an excellent lineout jumper, as well, both in defence and attack. He’s very good on the ground, he’s an excellent carrier. He’s a very passionate guy.

“He’s captaining Munster at the moment and we’re top of the Rabo and qualified for a home Heineken Cup quarter final; he’s probably gotten a lot of confidence from that. He comes in here and when you play with the likes of Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry, Jonny [Sexton] and Brian [O'Driscoll] it’s another step up again. He’s really enjoying it at the moment and is a great guy to play alongside.”

O’Mahony also played the final 17 minutes of the match in the second row after flanker Tommy O’Donnell replaced the injured sub Dan Tuohy. It is the fifth position he has covered — including winger against Italy — in his 20 Test caps.

Perhaps the comment from reader Brian O’Neill is true — ‘Paul O’Connell might have a pair of Peter O’Mahony PJ’s in his wardrobe somewhere’.

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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