By Michael Dorgan
Munster hero Donncha O’Callaghan celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the province’s second Heineken Cup success at a gala function in New York this week — and found himself wondering whether that storied side actually got the best out of themselves.
Eighteen of the 2008 Heineken Cup winning squad gathered in Manhattan’s Athletic Club on Tuesday night in a major fundraiser for the province’s under-age programme.
Looking around him O’Callaghan felt good among friends but had a few ‘what if’ pangs too, he admitted.
“In a mad way, you look at the calibre and values of that group and you think ‘jeez, did we grab enough?
"I’d love to go back and grab that group by the ear because (on reflection) we didn’t know we were that good, ya know?”
O’Callaghan accepts such reunions create their own air of nostalgia, but at this remove he could see there was a unique sort of chemistry in the group.
“It feels like it was 10 minutes ago, it really does. The same slags, the same nicknames...”
Maybe the group itself didn’t realise how good it was?
“Not even that,” he mused, “I think it’s a bit of self-confidence.
"We were tough on each other in terms of ensuring no-one got above themselves — but in doing so we probably pulled each other back a little bit from saying ‘we are actually half decent’ — and that we could push on.
"But that’s the way it goes, you can have no regrets.”