O'Callaghan happy to grind out result

 

Donncha O'Callaghan offered no apologies for the style in which Munster were crowned European champions after a ferocious Heineken Cup final victory over Toulouse.

The powerful Munster forwards stifled much of Toulouse's natural exuberance and, after edging ahead for the final time with 15 minutes remaining, closed out the game in cold, clinical fashion.

Munster's captain Paul O'Connell even declined a kickable penalty with 90 seconds left because it risked handing possession back to Toulouse, who had already served notice of their potential to create a try from nothing.

Instead, Munster took the quick tap and kept the ball at close quarters, eating up the seconds until referee Nigel Owens blew up to confirm their second European title.

"It may be boring but who cares?" said O'Callaghan, his face scarred and body sore from a fierce forwards encounter. "I have got a medal in my pocket."

It was the 10th of 13 Heineken Cup finals to be decided by less than a converted try and O'Callaghan believes Munster, under the stewardship of Declan Kidney for the last time, were better prepared for such a contest.

"It's incredible," said O'Callaghan. "We knew it was going to come down to small margins. The thing is that you learn from experience from the tight games you play like this before.

"It comes from playing in the All Ireland League, schoolboy rugby and how to win it out. It might be boring but who cares? It is effective for us.

"There was just such a great sense of belief even when we were behind the posts after their try. We looked around and there was that belief that we were not going to lose.

"It's great that we are sending the coaches off on the biggest high possible."

For Byron Kelleher, Toulouse's New Zealand scrum-half, it was the second time in seven months he has left the Millennium Stadium having been taught a painful lesson in the difference between winning rugby and expansive rugby.

Kelleher was in the All Blacks team beaten 20-18 by France in the World Cup quarter-final after spurning repeated opportunities to "win ugly", either with a late drop-goal or by drawing a penalty.

"Finals are about winning and you do whatever it takes to win," Kelleher conceded. "The reputation of the All Blacks is definitely being able to play with the ball and we have players who have natural ability to do that.

"But we weren't smart enough in that World Cup. You have to integrate the two together because in finals and in the World Cup the style changes.

"Munster know how to be smart, they certainly know how to close out a game. It was similar to the World Cup, where teams went into a nutshell and played safe and boring rugby to win the game.

"I think it is really good for New Zealanders to experience playing over here and hopefully then return home to grow the knowledge in New Zealand."