TOMÁS O’LEARY overcame an ankle injury to play a key role in Munster’s Heineken Cup win over Sale on Sunday.
The scrum-half was omitted from Munster’s 25 man squad for the clash due to the severity of the problem. However, O’Leary convinced coach Tony McGahan he was fit with impressive sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and was duly chosen to star and fully justified the faith placed in him by the management team.
“The leg is grand now and would always be anyway after a game like that,” enthused O’Leary, who celebrates his 25th birthday tomorrow. “I had a bit of trouble with it over the past few weeks but nothing major.
“Once the adrenalin gets going, it’s grand, and you can forget about it”.
O’Leary knows he must retain this rich form if he is to hold on to the number nine jersey ahead of Peter Stringer.
Whether running, kicking, tackling and passing, he was on top of his game on Sunday and to such an extent that he could well figure in Declan Kidney’s 30 strong national panel tomorrow.
“This was a very satisfying performance,” he agreed. “It was particularly good in the first-half and went a little slack in the second and we let them back into the game. We had to do something and got back down and scored another try and put the game away. That was very satisfying and we were glad to get out of here with a win and to deprive them of a bonus point at the end was good as well.
“There was a bit of concern at half time that we weren’t further ahead. We had a lot of pressure and a few chances but they killed the ball close to their line. While we were concerned, we still had a seven point lead and just wanted to go out in the second half and play some good rugby and kill off the game.”
O’Leary insisted “there was no panic at all” even when Sale levelled the scoring with a try under the posts. We sat back and let them come back for the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half, but Paulie and Rog said: “let’s get back down and play territory and play the phases again”, he revealed.
“Once we did that, we got over for the try so, no, there wasn’t any panic at all. Even when we were down to 14 men, the defence was great, last ditch tackles and whatever. We were determined not to let them over for another try and to succeed in that was very pleasing”.
O’Leary didn’t have the happiest memories of Edgeley Park from when he last played there in 2006.
Munster were well beaten and O’Leary, relatively inexperienced at the time, suffered with the rest.
“We just didn’t turn up on the night, he agreed.
“So it was nice to put that right and get off to a good start in the group and make sure we’re leading the way. We’re in charge of our own destiny now.
“It’s up to us to win every game and obviously that’s our aim and we’re in control at the moment.
“Obviously we were disappointed with the performance against Montauban but a win is a win. Even if we won last week and got a bonus point, this was always going to be a massive game anyway. We were determined to show the fans what we could do and the way we played that game was a big incentive.”
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