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Have To Be Happy With That

24th March 2007 By Munster Rugby

Have To Be Happy With That

“Have to be happy with that,” was a sweating Alan Quinlan’s response immediately after his sides’s 24-21 win over Ulster at Ravenhill and given that it was Ulster’s first home defeat in the Magners League since December 2005, and the first time Munster had won here since November 2004, a more exuberant response might have been expected from the captain on the night.

But the veteran Tipperary man, who on his 130th cap led the side with such distinction was more inclined to save his well known exuberance for an all round team performance and the less well known members of the squad.

“It was a really great performance from everyone including the lads, Mark Melbourne, who came off the bench. I’m delighted for the younger lads. The likes of Tony Buckley, Shane O’Connor, Donnacha (Ryan), then Timmy Ryan when he came in.  All of ’em. Each and every one gave their all and I’m just glad they got their reward.

“It’s great experience for them. And it’ll stand to ’em. It’s not easy to win here. Ulster are a helluva side and they don’t lose too many here. So yeah, ’tis great to get a win and it couldn’t come at a better time with the game next week against Llanelli.”

When asked was it a question of Munster upping their game in the second half or Ulster falling away, Quinlan said. “I don’t know really. I suppose they might say they yes it was but I’m not so sure. They were brilliant in the first half right enough. I don’t think it was that we played that badly then, just that we made silly mistakes and they punished us every time. We were giving away penalties, maybe kicking a bit too much, I dunno but I think we just tightened things up in the second half, put the ball through the hands more.

“We knew we had to score first (in the second half) or we were gone. John O’Sullivan did fabulous, took us upfield after we had been under huge pressure and Trevor got the score. That gave us confidence and we started to play the game we had set out to play. But credit to the way the lads defended, nobody backed off, lads worked for each other. Ah ’twas massive really, a great win.”

If there was one regret Quinlan expressed it was over the injury sustained by fellow back-rower, Tim McGann who was helped off in the 57th minute with a leg injury. “I don’t know how bad it is, we’ll have to wait and see what the medics say. But I’m gutted for him. He was playing so well. There’s never a good time to pick up an injury but at this time of the year, coming to the end of the season, it’s awful.”

Later after he had managed to catch his breath, Quinlan was able to settle back and, with the Heineken Cup match looming,  muse on a problem that this performance had presented to coach Declan Kidney. “Ye know, after this, Deccy is going to find it hard to change a winning side, ” he said with that impish grin.


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