McGahan heaps praise on resurgent O'Gara
December 11, 2009
Munster boss Tony McGahan hailed O'Gara's display as "an outstanding performance by an outstanding player" © Getty Images
Munster coach Tony McGahan hailed match-winner Ronan O'Gara as an "outstanding player" following the Irish province's gritty 24-23 Heineken Cup victory over Pool 1 opponents Perpignan at Thomond Park.
O'Gara, whose goal-kicking has come in to question in recent weeks, scored all of Munster's points with seven penalties and a drop goal as McGahan's side stayed on track to qualify for the quarter-finals for the twelfth successive year. Perpignan will get an shot at revenge on Sunday week, though, when the French champions host Munster at the Stade Aime Giral.
"I thought Ronan O'Gara was outstanding tonight. He has been outstanding even since he came back into the camp after the autumn internationals," said McGahan. "He is a tremendously strong-willed person. He did not lose his belief and we certainly did not lose our belief in him. Tonight was an outstanding performance from an outstanding player. Everyone is delighted for him."
The Australian also paid tribute to his side's "experience and fortitude" as they recovered from conceding two tries to Yoann Vivalda and Nicolas Durand inside the opening 13 minutes, and also from Philip Burger's stunning 70th-minute solo effort.
"I thought our experience and fortitude brought us through. Perpignan went ahead with seven or eight minutes to go and we came back again," he added. "We put ourselves on the line to make sure we got that match-winning penalty at the end. We just came to get the four points, so that was a big result for us. We would liked to have kept them to zero, but four points was what the job entailed."
McGahan claimed the decision to disallow Denis Hurley's 76th-minute try for a knock on in the lead-up to the score was a tight decision.
"For Denis Hurley's effort it looked very close. It certainly was a tough, tough decision," he added. "It could have gone either way, but the way things are going for us we are not getting any of those. It was a 50-50 decision, We have to live with that."
Munster No.8 Denis Leamy, who put in an all-action display, was also quick to praise the contribution of O'Gara. "Rog answered all the questions tonight. He was awesome. He isn't going anywhere for a while," Leamy said.
Looking ahead to the return match, he added, "Next week in Perpignan will be massive. I made my debut down there and my memory of it is that it is a real bear-pit. It will be a very, very tough battle in the south of France. It always is. It is one to look forward to and a great challenge. We have to go to Perpignan next week and really pull out all the stops."
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