Peter O’Mahony part of Ireland’s relentless drive to keep pushing the boundaries

Munster and Ireland veteran calls on Farrell’s men to produce their best performance of the year against Australia

Peter O’Mahony looked on from the Shelbourne Hotel in the company of his Ireland team-mates, any pangs of envy superseded by pride as he watched Munster beat South Africa A in the first game of rugby to be played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Although not playing against Fiji on the Saturday, he had been recommissioned as a water carrier and that kept him in Dublin.

He texted his wife Jessica after the game, the gist of which was that he would have given anything “to play, to be involved, to even be at the game because it looked like a special atmosphere”.

If he thought about It, he could have asked her to go outside and allow him to surreptitiously sample the acoustics “as we are living a couple of hundred metres from Páirc Uí Chaoimh”.


His childhood never took him to the Cork GAA stronghold as Temple Hill, Musgrave Park, Thomond Park, and the old Lansdowne Road offered his theatres of dreams. It doesn’t prevent him from understanding the significance of rugby being granted access to the Leeside venue. Anyone who experienced the atmosphere hopes that it won’t be a stand-alone moment.

O’Mahony, an Aviva ambassador and speaking at the launch of the FoodCloud charity initiative, would like to enjoy that experience first-hand, and agreed that it would provide a wonderful venue for a Champions Cup match.

“Yes, 100 per cent. I am sure that it was win-win all round for Munster rugby, Cork GAA, Irish rugby, for the Cork [based] supporters and for Munster [fans in general].

“I would like to think that it has opened the window, speaking on behalf of us [Munster rugby], to be able to play there a bit more often.”

That victory for a Munster side missing its Ireland contingent can be transformative if the momentum is harnessed correctly.

O’Mahony said: “We have had a poor start to the season, results wise [but] it will give them a huge amount of confidence to see the progress. I am not speaking out of turn here, we have massive belief in what Graham [Rowntree], Leams [Denis Leamy], Prendy [Mike Prendergast], and Kyri [Andi Kyriacou] are trying to do.

“I think you will have seen a lot of it in that performance, a lot of great attacking stuff, some very proud defence, some very good technical lineout stuff. I think it will have given them all, not a sigh of relief but a huge breath of belief.”

On a personal level O’Mahony’s focus this Saturday will be trying to help Ireland to a clean sweep of victories in the November Test series, having beaten South Africa and Fiji, when Andy Farrell’s side take on Australia at the Aviva Stadium (8.0pm).

An injury to Joey Carbery means that Jack Crowley, a debutant last week, will understudy Ireland captain Johnny Sexton. It’s a meteoric rise for the young Innishannon native but one that O’Mahony has been able to observe at close quarters. He’s noticed a marked difference in Crowley since returning from the Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa.

O’Mahony wasn’t surprised to see the young debutant doing the talking in a huddle during the win over Fiji.

“That is what you must have from your outhalf, a real assertive, confident guy who knows what he is talking about, believes in what he is talking about and most importantly understands what he is talking about.

“We are certainly getting that. Jack being so young, it is great to see, and we have spoken about it already, what a place to be alongside Johnny [Sexton]; to be able to pick his brain and see how he operates at such close quarters will be superb for him [Crowley].”

Ireland’s success on the pitch fosters a happy rugby environment, where players and coaches drive each other to be better individually and collectively, all the while looking to develop and evolve in substance and style.

“Even outside of the four lines of the pitch, it is an enjoyable place to be, the craic is great. When you are involved in an environment like that it doesn’t seem like work.

“To get those performances [in matches] you have to be playing with guys that you believe in, you trust, you’re invested in, and I think that as a group we have certainly built [that culture]. From an Ireland point of view we must produce the best performance of the year [against Australia].

“Even if you go back to South Africa, there is stuff that we could have done a lot better in that game. There was plenty of stuff to go back on, [the] maul, scrum, stuff that we could have easily sorted out ourselves [on the pitch]. We have to see a step up in performance from that game.”

Therein lies the challenge, no time to reflect just yet.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer