O'Mahony confident Lions can recover and says shoulder should be fine

The Munster man was on the losing side as he captained the Lions in the first Test.

Murray Kinsella reports from Auckland

A PROUD DAY for Peter O’Mahony, even though he won’t have enjoyed the experience of losing to the All Blacks at Eden Park.

The 27-year-old became the 11th Irishman to captain the Lions in a Test match and while he was dejected that his side came out on the wrong side of a 30-15 scoreline, the Munster man believes that the Lions can turn it around next weekend.

Peter O'Mahony dejected A dejected O'Mahony at the final whistle. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The All Blacks will look to clinch the series in Wellington next Saturday night, and though Steve Hansen’s side are likely to be even better in Test two, O’Mahony echoed Warren Gatland’s belief that the Lions can reel them in.

“You’re being put under pressure by one of the best teams in the world,” said O’Mahony post-match at Eden Park.

“That opportunity just off kick-off in the first half [when Elliot Daly had a possible try ruled out] and then almost the same again in the second half, when we didn’t convert two very good chances.

“We’ve spoken about discipline and if you’re going to be over seven or eight penalties, you’re going to struggle, especially against a quality side like New Zealand.

“Look, there’s a huge amount of positives to be taken and there’s a couple of easy fixes.”

O’Mahony played 53 minutes at blindside flanker before being replaced by Sam Warburton, who also took over as captain.

The Ireland flanker had received treatment just before his exit, but he eased any concerns over his health for next weekend.

“I just got a bang on the shoulder,” he said. “It should be fine.”

O’Mahony got through 13 tackles for the Lions and was instrumental to their lineout work, though he wasn’t able to get on the ball as often as he would have liked when they were attacking.

Peter O'Mahony comes out to start the game O'Mahony led the Lions out at Eden Park. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The Lions captain also attempted to manage referee Jaco Peyper, although he didn’t have as much success in that department as had been the case against the Maori All Blacks a week previously.

It was clear that the Lions were aggrieved to have come out on the wrong end of an 11-6 penalty count.

O’Mahony and scrum-half Conor Murray could be seen querying Peyper on the half time whistle, while Sean O’Brien and Johnny Sexton remonstrated with the South African at full time, the out-half saying that “you gave them everything.”

Asked if there had been frustration on the Lions’ part, O’Mahony paused for a couple of seconds and delivered a diplomatic answer.

Look, in the heat of battle you just question some of his assessments, as a captain or as a nine.

“You just ask his interpretation and you clarify it so you can be better the next time. I’m sure Conor and myself were just asking about a technical issue and I’m sure the lads at the end were doing the same thing.”

The Lions will need to move on quickly as they depart for Wellington tomorrow, with a fixture against the Hurricanes to come on Tuesday before the second Test on Saturday.

O’Mahony will be key to maintaining a positive mindset in the group and if he gets the honour again, he will be even more determined to be a winning Lions captain.

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