ALAN QUINLAN said his 200-game Munster career was a wonderful journey and warned friend and foe that it is not over yet.
The Ireland flanker received a rapturous reception from the Thomond Park crowd before and after Munster secured another Magners League victory on Saturday night, but the accolades were of secondary importance to his desire to win.
Quinlan was barely beaten for the Man of the Match award by inspirational winger Doug Howlett, after producing a display belying his 36 years in the face of an Ospreys back row that included New Zealand legends Marty Holah and Jerry Collins.
Although he’s aware of the “huge competition for places,” he insisted he wasn’t nearly finished. “There is a good buzz, I still want to win things for Munster,” Quinlan said
The flanker spoke of the intensity Munster brought to the game as being crucial in seeing off what he regards as a hugely talented Ospreys side, although he played down his own role in successfully targeting the breakdown as a source of ball supply.
In terms of his personal future, Quinlan dismissed any real hope of winning further international honours but sent a message to national coach Declan Kidney that said: “I’ll never retire from international rugby.”
He had in mind saying the same to Munster’s coach Tony McGahan but did so through the level of his contribution to a side that huffed and puffed before securing a 22-10 triumph.
On age grounds alone, Quinlan realistically reckons his days are numbered and insisted he wasn’t looking beyond provincial rugby.
“I’d put my hand up to Tony first and try to stay in the Munster team because there is a lot of competition there. I’ll take it one game at a time; at my stage I want to try and enjoy it because things can change from week to week.”
The victory was significant for Munster in that it helped ease the pain of losing the corresponding fixture on home soil last season, but Quinlan saw it merely as a stepping stone. He pointed to the many handling errors that often ruined the promise of continuity, and insisted that there was plenty room for improvement.
On the positive side, he highlighted a new intensity from Munster’s earlier games, adding: “Our attitude and work rate was good against a top class side. It was good to win but we won’t get carried away.”
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