Alan Quinlan, who is part of Ireland’s extended Six Nations squad, reckons that Saturday’s must-win clash with Wales could turn out to be ‘the game of the championship.’
Munster lost ground in the Magners League title race last weekend, going down 25-22 to the Cardiff Blues courtesy of an 87th-minute try from Tal Selley.
Quinlan and company were devastated to lose in such a way but the Tipperary man feels that Ireland will not cough up a winning lead if they are in such a position against Wales.
“We made a few mistakes in defence and Cardiff came back to beat us. We let them off the hook, but I’m sure Ireland won’t do the same if they are in a similar winning position next Saturday,” he said.
Although not in the matchday squad, Quinlan is eagerly awaiting Wales’ visit to Croke Park next weekend, admitting: “It has all the makings of being the game of the championship.”
“Certainly, Wales will come over with a lot of confidence this time after the way they put Italy away in the second half last time out.
“It’s a massively important fixture for both ourselves and Wales. It has got a lot of the hallmarks of being a cracker.
“You cannot hide the fact that the World Cup was a disappointment for both nations, but they are coming back,” said the 25 times-capped flanker.
“Wales will win the Triple Crown if they beat us and we will be within one game of it if we can defeat them.
“So there’s a lot to play for. It’s going to be a huge match and very tight. Wales are in form and playing very well at the moment.
“But we also played pretty well in the second half in France and against Scotland. I think it will be much tighter against Wales this year than it has the last few times they have been to Ireland.”
Reflecting back on Munster’s agonising defeat at the Arms Park – only their second loss in their last seven games – Quinlan knows the province will have to strike up an unbeaten run if they are to challenge for top honours in the league.
“We needed to win this game and defeat has made life very difficult for us now.
“The Blues winning means they moved into a challenging position. We have got seven games left and are going to have to win the lot to have a chance of the title.”
Munster are currently fourth in the Magners League table, 11 points behind top-of-the-table Leinster – although Declan Kidney’s side do have a game in hand. Their postponed match away to Ulster is due to be played next month, on either April 25 or 29.