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Bradley and O’Driscoll Hail Munster’s Heroics

Bradley and O’Driscoll Hail Munster’s Heroics

Monday saw Ireland’s pre-match press conference for their game against the Barbarians take place at Kingsholm in Gloucester. But there was little talk about the Baa Baas fixture, as the word on everyone’s lips was still ‘Munster.’

The chat is still flowing on both sides of the Irish Sea about Munster’s gritty Heineken Cup final win over Toulouse, and both Ireland’s interim head coach Michael Bradley and team captain Brian O’Driscoll spoke today of their admiration for Declan Kidney’s side.

The pair also brushed off criticism of the manner in which the province triumphed at the Millennium Stadium.

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Bradley said: “Munster are European champions in a competition that is nine matches long. They played plenty of good rugby over the nine games but their objective on Saturday was to win the game and I can see that style working at international level in order to close a game out.

“They came through an extremely hard pool where all four teams could have graced the semi-finals of the competition. They have given a huge amount to Irish rugby and that is what we must remember.”

In the aftermath of the final, Toulouse out-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde voiced his annoyance at Munster’s play, saying ‘it’s getting like basketball where the only option is to make a technical error and take the points.’

Although accepting the defeat, the frustrated French international added that ‘le pick-and-go is meaningless, it’s not rugby.’

At Kingsholm O’Driscoll countered by saying: “I think it’s a little bit harsh to criticise Munster’s style of play. They were in a final and it doesn’t matter how you play in a final. You can play the most unattractive rugby imaginable – it makes no odds because it is about winning.

“The Heineken Cup is notorious for producing poor rugby in a final but they ground it out. They recycled the ball and killed the clock and I applaud them for it.

“It typifies the sort of side they are. They are a thinking side.”

Admittedly envious of the Munster players having two Heineken Cup winners’ medals in their possession, the Ireland skipper knows that the winning mentality from both Munster and his own Leinster side, who scooped this season’s Magners League title, will be a vital ingredient for Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.

“To be honest, I’m very envious and I make no secret of that. Munster have been in four finals and for that you have to take your hat off to them.

“I think they have been in the knock-out stages for 10 years in a row and for that reason they deserve to be there. The position they are in is something we all have to strive for. It’s something I want to achieve,” O’Driscoll added.

“There are not many players out there with two Heineken Cup winners’ medals. Munster rarely play badly and even when they do have their off-days they push teams to the limit and that’s a great skill to have.

“When the Munster players join up with the Ireland squad (this week) I’m sure they will bring a huge infectious factor to the squad – a real buzz.”