Munster ‘embarrassed’ by tame Challenge Cup exit

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan admitted they were ‘extremely embarrassed’ by the manner in which they had performed in Saturday’s shattering Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Harlequins in front of their home supporters at Thomond Park.

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan admitted they were ‘extremely embarrassed’ by the manner in which they had performed in Saturday’s shattering Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Harlequins in front of their home supporters at Thomond Park.

And coach McGahan agreed that the surprise defeat had ‘probably pulled the scab off’ the healing process the squad had gone through since their failure to make the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup in January.

Munster, already assured of a home semi-final in the Magners League play-offs on either Friday, May 13 or Saturday May 14, face Connacht in their final game of the regular season at Thomond Park this Friday night (7.05pm).

Tony McGahan said: “We had a very open and honest discussion this week. There are a number of players leaving this weekend. We are extremely embarrassed about the way we conducted ourselves on Saturday with regard to playing at home and what we represent, what our supporters have given us over a long period of time.

“To deliver that we certainly need an ability to repay that faith. Before we get anywhere near next week (Magners League play-off semi-final) we need to have a performance there on Friday which reflects the hurt that we have inflicted on ourselves. For the players who are moving on at the end of the year, it is about giving them a proper send-off.

“To an extent, Saturday’s defeat undoes some of the good form in the League since we exited the Heineken Cup. I said that the way we conducted ourselves as a club after the Toulon game and exiting the Heineken Cup, we did a pretty good job as a playing group. We just got on with things and worked hard for each other. We didn’t whinge. We just got about our work and did that. That was reflected in our performances, the way we stuck tough and ground out close results. I think Saturday’s result has probably pulled the scab off that to be honest.

“We are really baffled to see where the performance has come from, especially with the lead-in games coming into Saturday. There is a feeling of disappointment and anger for a lot of people, especially our supporters. To turn up for a home game and see what we displayed is not good.

“In the first half we had 15 starters of possession and on 14 occasions, we turned over the ball on first phase and on the 15th we turned it over on second phase. We really didn’t give ourselves any sort of platform or any sort of ability to play any sort of game. Regardless of what we were looking to achieve we didn’t give ourselves any opportunity to put them under any pressure.”

Tony McGahan revealed that Munster would be looking to sign one overseas player during the closed season, a centre.

“With the IRFU and the national player programme we have only got one slot open there,” Tony McGahan said.

“We are limited with where we put that position. We have BJ Botha coming in and we have Wian du Preez here, Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, so there are four import places. We have one more position there. A centre position is what we are looking for.