O'Connell faces race against time to be fit


Munster coach Tony McGahan has admitted that skipper Paul O’Connell faces a tough race against the time to be fit for next Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-finals against Biarritz in San Sebastian.

The lock has not played since Ireland’s final Six Nations game against Scotland on March 20th because of a nagging groin problem.

Last night’s 15-11 defeat to the Ospreys at Thomond Park was the latest match O’Connell missed, a game that Keith Earls also missed. McGahan is more hopeful that he will be able to face the French side next weekend.

"We're very hopeful with Ian Dowling, Doug Howlett and Keith Earls. Paul O'Connell is in a race against time at the moment, so we're just giving him every opportunity at this point," said McGahan.

Munster continued their poor run of form in the Magners League prior to European engagements, with a fifth defeat this season coming against the Ospreys.

But McGahan is not overly concerned ahead of a Heineken semi-final clash he says "is what this year is all about".

"We have shown already this year that if we have a disappointing result we can certainly come back from it. We will re-group this week," said McGahan.

"Next weekend is what this year is all about for us and we're chasing a Heineken Cup. We were well beaten in the end by the Ospreys, they competed on every ruck, they put a lot of pressure on us and they won turnover ball.

"It was a big game for us and we needed a result. I know we showed a little fight to come back in the game, but it wasn't enough at that stage."