Peter O’Mahony: 'We were under the pump, under pressure'
Ireland captain knows taking a five-point haul from Rome is no mean achievement
Ireland flanker and captain Peter O’Mahony passes the ball during their victory over Italy in the Six Nations in Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Peter O’Mahony could speak from personal experience in the same Stadio Olimpico, when he played more than half of that defeat by Italy on the left wing, that achieving a five-point haul in Rome is no mean achievement. He duly reminded the Irish players of that as well.
There were shades of that 22-15 defeat when Ireland were forced to rejig their backline after the early departure of Bundee Aki, although this was nothing like the carnage of that day when Ireland lost three backs in the first half-hour.
Yet at the same time the Ireland captain reflected on his team’s frustration when he candidly conceded: “We struggled at times to be cohesive. There was certainly some good attacking play being put through but a lot of times it ended up in unforced errors. That was something we spoke about before the game, trying to be more cohesive and there were times we were, just enough of it I don’t think.
“But I said to a few of the lads afterwards, I was here in 2013 and it’s difficult to win away from home in this competition. It’s so competitive. To get five points away from home, I was proud of the way the lads handled the second half. We were under the pump, under pressure coming in at half-time.
“We were composed, we got clear messages that we implemented to a certain degree in the second half. But, look, there’s plenty for us to work on, I’m not going to sit here and say we’re delighted with the performance.”
O’Mahony was a deserving Irish winner of the Man of the Match although Tito Tebaldi, whom Joe Schmidt admitted was “outstanding” assuredly would have been a worthy case of nominating a player from the losing team. He knows Ireland need to improve, but believes this is achievable.
“Look, we know it’s there. We know we’re not far off. We’ve just got to figure out what we need to do to unlock it a little bit. It certainly isn’t from a lack of trying. Guys are working hard. They’re working hard in training to put it right and try to get our combinations right. Another two weeks together, we’ll get away for a few hours on Monday and get back in later in the week and get our heads together and try and get it sorted.”