Soul-searching for Leinster and Leo Cullen after derby defeat

Cullen says province will need to have more edge when they meet Connacht on Friday

This time, then, it was Leinster's turn. Although they've generally not needed them, this "good kick in the arse" as Leo Cullen described it was a reminder of the uniqueness attached to interpro derbies.

Cullen admitted there needed to be some soul-searching as to whether they were as up for the night as Ulster were always likely to be.

“That’s the question for us. Everyone needs to ask that question of themselves. That’s not just the players, it’s coaches, backroom staff, everybody. You need to bring that edge to your performances. You need to question that all the time, after you win or after you lose.

“It needs to be there. At the end of the day we’re involved in a contact sport and it’s man against man in the contact area, so we need to make sure we’re up for that challenge and we certainly know Connacht will be up for it because you have to remember Connacht’s performance here last year,” he said in reference to another derby on Friday.


Cullen felt there was also a shortfall in composure.

“We were probably a little bit off in terms of the intensity and then when we bring a bit of intensity we just lacked composure, so it’s trying to get that balance right is the big thing for us.”

The competition may be in disarray but that’s not a factor in derbies.

“Yeah, and that’s the thing. It was our first derby of the season. Ulster felt that when they got beaten by Connacht already and even then Connacht had lost narrowly to Munster the week before that.

“Yeah, it’s a different type of game. A different type of game from internationals, definitely a different type of game from what we encountered in the first five rounds of the season.

“When you watch that Connacht-Ulster game and even the Munster-Connacht game there was definitely a better edge to those games. Yeah, we learned a pretty harsh lesson about that today.”

Their biggest problem was their unusual failure to resource the breakdown sufficiently, where Frank Murphy’s 15-11 penalty count against them was a constant narrative to the match.

But Cullen insisted: “We will look to ourselves first always. There’s things in our control and you want to take the referee out of it really. So, there’s things in our control that we need to be better at. That will be our focus for the week. I won’t look to blame anyone else bar ourselves.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times