O'Mahony primed for daunting Wales fixture
SIX NATIONS:If Peter O’Mahony still has the slightly awestruck air of someone who sometimes needs to be pinched to wake up from a dream, it’s understandable.
Playing for Ireland clearly means the world to him – every minute of it. And hence he would never take it for granted, but he’s beginning to settle his feet under the table now.
It is possibly worth reminding ourselves that prior to last season he had started only two games for Munster and at this point last year had still to make his Test debut. Yet, having been an unused replacement in the corresponding Six Nations opener against Wales, he made his debut as a replacement a week later against Italy and on Saturday makes his 10th appearance and fourth start in succession.
Not that he’s had the inclination or time to take stock.
“I’m delighted the way the last 12 to 18 months have gone, but there are so many big games coming up every weekend it’s hard. I haven’t been wanting to find time, but . . . I haven’t found time regardless to stand back and look back.”
On Saturday, he plays his first game at the Millennium Stadium, having first visited there at 16 years of age when he was among the 60,000-strong Red Army which invaded Cardiff to see Munster finally claim a first Heineken Cup. But soon after he was rubbing shoulders, playing with and eventually emulating some of his backrow heroes. Now it’s the same way with Ireland.
The process has been inspiring and daunting. “To come from supporter to rubbing shoulders and then playing alongside them, it’s a bit mad at times. It’s kind of settled down now and I’m enjoying it.”
That Anthony Foley has remained as part of the coaching fabric with Munster, and David Wallace and Alan Quinlan have been around the scene as sounding boards, has been invaluable. “These guys have so much knowledge. It would worry me to think how many caps they have between them for both Munster and Ireland. It would be silly of me not to tap into that kind of knowledge.”
Having captained virtually every side he’s played for, from Cork Con Under-12s to the Ireland Under-20s and even Munster on and off since the start of last season, O’Mahony also played much of his formative years with PBC at outhalf and even played an AIL semi-final for Con on the wing.
His versatility has seen him play across the backrow and opinion still rages as to his best position, although he’s had a steady run at blindside with province and country since November and it’s evidently benefited him.