Peter O’Mahony, a veteran of so many Ireland campaigns, described the dressing room after the game as ‘probably the toughest I have been in’ in the aftemath of Ireland’s Quarter Final defeat.
The Ireland flanker, who has been part of the fabric of the team since his debut, noted that Andy Farrell spoke to the players about how they recover from the game, “Andy spoke really well about the last few years. I thought he was very professional and pretty positive to be fair. It’s a tough dressing room, probably the toughest I have been in to be honest. But as he said, there’s worse things going on in the world. We need to understand that over the next 24-28 hours.”
Saturday’s match was a final one in green for Jonathan Sexton and for O’Mahony’s Munster and Ireland teammate Keith Earls, both of whom he calls friends, “It’s tough to lose these guys in these circumstances. I have spent a lot of time with him and Johnny. Probably most of my caps had one of the two of them in it, if not all of them.
It’s tough to lose fellas like that, big characters and big players for us, and the best type of people who have your back all the time, good friends of mine.”
Asked about his own future and what next for the squad the grizzled flanker reiterated that he has not made any decisions beyond the end of his contract, “We’ll see. It is a tough one to take just now and a lot of my friends won’t be back. I have a contract until the end of the year and we will see where we go after that.
“There’s a great group of young players there, and players who aren’t here or in the squad who can step up to the plate as well. There’s no doubt this team will have left Irish rugby in a better place.
We have achieved a huge amount together over the past four years. We are disappointed tonight, but I think we can be proud of where we have left the jersey.
“It’s a terribly tough pill to swallow. Obviously we had plans to continue on for the next couple of weeks but I am proud of the lads and the way they have carried themselves. I am sure there’s lots of young kids who we have inspired to take up the game who might be in this position in 15, 20 years.
“It is the end of an era, there’s no other way of putting it. There are a group of senior players who are moving on.”