Peter O’Mahony was left to regret missed opportunities throughout Munster’s Heineken Champions Cup pool campaign but the captain is confident his province has the right mix to compete with the European elite in future.
Munster endured a difficult evening in Paris as Racing 92 secured their place at the top of Pool 4 with a late three-try salvo that sealed a 39-22 victory in the penultimate round of games.
It leaves Munster in a shootout with Saracens for second place next weekend, though the defending champions will start the final round three points better off and 16 the maximum possible total for O’Mahony’s side, a low number to be hoping for qualification as one of the three best runners-up who can progress to the last eight.
A home draw with Racing in round two, that saw a missed JJ Hanrahan drop goal late on deny Munster a vital home victory, and the failure to collect a losing bonus point at Saracens in round four have left the men in red reliant on other results in the last round and not just in Pool 4, where Sarries will host Racing and Ospreys visit Thomond Park.
O’Mahony acknowledged that leaving points out there in previous games played a major role in creating the current scenario.
“You’ve seen however long this competition has been going it’s about grabbing what you can get,” the Munster captain said.
“You’ve seen those things and that point has made all the difference.
“Again, we probably weren’t clinical enough at home against these guys.
“You can’t just say tonight was the reason we won’t qualify but again we’ll endeavour to perform next weekend.
“That’s paramount for us now. It’s hard tonight but we will regroup and put a plan together for next weekend. It’s going to mean a huge amount to us to perform next weekend.”
Munster had been up against it since the pool draw was made, pitting them against defending champions Saracens and Racing, who narrowly lost the 2018 final to Leinster.
It was a big-money duo that was always going to make this a challenging campaign but O’Mahony believes there is more to his province that can compensate for the financial disparities.
“It’s hard to be thinking about it now but this group has always had huge belief and you talk financially but we always have something different in that we have a huge group of players who have come from the province and who have come through our academy systems.
“It always has made a difference and we’ve always complemented that by signing some excellent players from overseas and we have that mix now, and that’s always a dangerous mix, the guys who we have there and signing well, which we have done.
“We’ll continue to do so and that’s what makes our club special. They didn’t all come from Racing. It’s a different dynamic. We need to change some things. We need to do things better. We need to take our chances, that’s the 15 guys on the pitch.
“It’s a different ball game if you score after 60 minutes and you go nine points ahead. They’re chasing a little bit and as you see when you chase a game you can make mistakes against guys like that and they punish you straight away.
“There’s little improvements that we can make that will make us better next weekend, not next season. So that’s our focus now.”