‘That’s all it was, proving a point. There’s still a final’: Leinster not ready to ease up after Ulster

Home / ‘That’s all it was, proving a point. There’s still a final’: Leinster not ready to ease up after Ulster

NOT LONG AFTER a coach and two players had retreated back behind locked doors from the rooms Leinster routinely open to the media, the squad was assembled for a meeting.

The walls in UCD aren’t flimsy, but you could hear enough to know the group are in a good place – even if you hadn’t witnessed their seismic defeat of Ulster on Friday night.

There were cheers, there was clapping, but none of the noise was of an overly boisterous nature. The sounds were of metaphorical back-slapping after a job very well done.

“I suppose Friday night was an accumulation of a few 75% performances. To go out and get a 90-plus performance was very satisfying,” said ex-Connacht lock Mick Kearney, perhaps summing it all up best.

Some spectators could see the performance coming in hindsight, others were shocked. But for Leinster players themselves it was an affirmation of a belief they’ve held all the way through the winter. Through their route to the top of the Pro12, Champions Cup near-misses, losses and exits. They’ve known they were capable of putting a display like Friday together, it just doesn’t always click as nicely as it should.

‘Our sort of game’

“We’ve been saying it non-stop in interviews and in our meetings,” nods loosehead Jack McGrath.

“The way we started is the way we want to start games; quick, fast and hit the ground running. Far play to Ulster, they came back into it. I think half-time came at a good time for us, took a bit of sting out of them. We scored after that and took the wind out of their sails a little bit.

“That’s what we want to be doing to teams under pressure, playing our sort of game.”

McGrath was standing in the same spot three weeks ago when he said he was embarrassed coming in to work after a humbling defeat in Belfast had given Ulster a temporary swagger in the inter-provincial rivalry. The prop was asked if he felt better after a point had been proven against their neighbours up the M1.

“That (ruthless) streak that we wanted to go on and keep scoring against them was something everyone felt. It was good to see from a Leinster team.”

Backs coach Girvan Dempsey didn’t broach much of an argument when the 30 – 18 success was labelled Leinster’s best of the season. However, there is still a fierce inter-pro rivalry standing in their way of a trophy and Leinster are not floating in celebratory mood like a side ready to dip below the bar again.

“In a final,” Dempsey says, “you don’t need much to get yourself up for it. It’s there, within your grasp.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

“You just know it’s about managing external bits and pieces, managing nerves and making sure you put in a performance. We’re delighted with how the game went on Friday night and we know it’s going to be a very difficult task against a very consistent Connacht team.”

So difficult indeed, that Leinster feel the need to prove another point after suffering defeat in both of their visits to the Sportsground over this season and last.

McGrath was the man to address the incredibly tight 7 – 6 March loss in Galway, and looked forward to Saturday’s Murrayfield rematch in typically understated fashion.

“A lot of disappointment after that. No doubt Connacht are a quality side, so there is a point to prove.

“They’re going well and we’re going well, so it’s going to be a good game.”

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