McGahan heaps praise on O'Gara
April 10, 2010
Munster's Ronan O'Gara clears his lines during his side's victory at Thomond Park © Getty Images
Munster coach Tony McGahan was full of praise for Ronan O'Gara after the veteran fly-half steered the Irish province into their ninth Heineken Cup semi-final.
The Ireland fly-half masterminded Munster's 33-19 victory at Thomond Park that puts the two-time champions on a semi-final collision course with Biarritz. O'Gara landed 13 points but it was his kicking out of hand that did the damage, using the wind to produce a pinpoint barrage of long-range touchfinders in the decisive final quarter.
"Ronan was fantastic - he was at his best today with his game management," said McGahan. "He controlled everything and that was a big part of our game. We needed him today."
Paul O'Connell withdrew from the side shortly before kick off because of a groin problem and the Munster captain will continue to be monitored over the coming week.
"Relief is my initial reaction, especially after last week's result. The players were superb. We were very composed," said McGahan. "The forwards were tremendous as they have been under scrutiny all season. Following the loss of Paul we needed to step up to the mark and we did that. Mick O'Driscoll was excellent coming in for Paul."
Northampton coach Jim Mallinder admitted Saints were powerless to prevent O'Gara from ending English interest in the Heineken Cup. "We talked at half time about what O'Gara would do, though unfortunately talking isn't quite good enough and he's a master," said Mallinder.
"It was quite windy out there and he controlled that second half particularly well. O'Gara's a good player and Munster are a good team. Defensively we were a little bit off our game and not quite clinical enough in attack.
"We couldn't really get out of our half in the second half. We thought we could break Munster down by playing some rugby and if we looked after the ball we could score some tries, but we needed quality ball but didn't get enough of that. We knew we had a chance of winning this game, a good chance. We just didn't perform the way we know we can, but the best team won on the day."
With their European adventure over, Saints must now rally for their assault on the Guinness Premiership title. "It's a real losing changing room and we've not had many of those at Saints. It's quiet and the lads are really down," said Mallinder. "It will take 24-48 hours to get it out of the system and we have to do that quickly because we have four Premiership games left and we're second in the league. The sign of a good team is how quickly you bounce back from something like this."
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler