down and out

O'Mahony: 'I'm tired of learning lessons... I'm tired of losing semi-finals'

The Munster captain was gutted after Munster’s latest fall in the last four of Europe.

Murray Kinsella reports from Stade Chaban Delmas

PETER O’MAHONY MADE sure to lead his Munster team across the pitch in Bordeaux after defeat to Racing 92, insisting that they thanked their travelling support for another good effort in the stands.

The reception was mighty before O’Mahony drew his players into a huddle in the middle of the pitch for a final few words.

Peter O’Mahony dejected O'Mahony was gutted after Munster's defeat. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

When the 28-year-old made his way into the post-match press conference alongside CJ Stander, he looked truly shattered.

His words confirmed that it was as much mental as physical after Munster had fallen in the semi-finals of Europe for the sixth time in a row.

2009 against Leinster, 2010 against Biarritz, 2013 against Clermont, 2014 against Toulon, 2017 against Saracens and now 2018 against Racing.

O’Mahony has only played in three of those six semi-final defeats, but already he is sick of the feeling.

Many will point out in the coming days that reaching a Champions Cup semi-final for the second season in a row is actually a fine result for Munster and that they have enough youth in their squad to go again in the next few years.

But O’Mahony was simply distraught, his patience wearing thin.

“I’m getting tired of learning lessons myself, personally, to be honest,” said the Munster captain. “They all hurt these ones.”

O’Mahony did go on to state his pride at how Munster had shown up in the second half, belatedly stemming the Racing tide and gaining some momentum back, but it wasn’t much consolation for what was, in truth, a comprehensive defeat.

“I’m just tired of losing semi-finals,” said O’Mahony bluntly.

Peter O’Mahony speaks to his team after conceding the second try Munster had no answer for Racing's early onslaught. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Munster found themselves 24-3 down at the half-time break and the blindside flanker had no hesitation in pointing to his side’s early shortcomings as the chief cause for this disappointing loss.

“We struggled in the first 30 or 35 minutes,” said O’Mahony. “We knew they are very powerful when they get momentum and come out the track. We failed to stop it.

“I didn’t think we defended them well enough and we lost a lot of collisions in the first 35 minutes, which ultimately cost us on the edge. When you’re going to cough up 21 points against a side of that quality in the space of 20 minutes, you’re going to put yourself on the back foot.

“They moved the ball as a result of us not winning collisions. They’re big men, having front-foot ball with a backline like that, they’re very hard to stop.”

Munster’s weakness in the contact was particularly jarring after they had fronted up so impressively in this area against the size and power of Toulon in their quarter-final win.

Since then, Munster had a two-week tour of South Africa that involved copious amounts of travel, while the heat in Bordeaux could have been pointed to as a factor too, but O’Mahony was not in the mood for making excuses.

“I don’t think so,” said O’Mahony. “We certainly can’t blame any of that. You’re up against a very good side, the quality they have is incredible.

“We knew that, but the difference with the Toulon game was that we stopped their momentum-givers and in the first 35 minutes this week we failed to do so.”

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