David Corkery: Munster can no longer celebrate playing well and losing, a new culture is needed

'What happened in the past is gone and the sooner Peter O’Mahony, Graham Rowntree and all the players realise this, the sooner they will find a new formula for winning trophies'
David Corkery: Munster can no longer celebrate playing well and losing, a new culture is needed

Munster's Patrick Campbell dejected after losing the game by a point at Thomond Park. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A DOG without a strategy will always come short against a pack of wolves.

I don’t think anyone can say that the Munster players didn’t give their all on St Stephen's night but how long have we being saying this for now? And are we just happy with doing our best?

For those who are, may I suggest that you change your allegiance to Connacht or Ulster? And before anyone from the north or the west starts circling the wagons and raising a posse to have me burned at the stake, you must understand that for me winning is the only outcome I’ll ever accept in a sporting context.

Doing well was never good enough for Munster before. Giving your all for the province is a prerequisite! So, when I hear folk saying that the players fought hard and were unlucky, it drives me crazy.

How long more will we be slapping the Munster players on the back for playing well and losing? How long more will we be acknowledging losing bonus points as good results?

Munster's Rory Scannell shows his disappointment. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady
Munster's Rory Scannell shows his disappointment. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady

How long more will we be waiting for Joey Carbery to mature into the number 10 jersey? 

How long more will we be watching the faces of the Munster players and coaches portray the agony of losing come the final whistle?

It is now 13 years since any Munster senior player had the pleasure of having a medal of any kind placed over their heads.

I could go on and on. There is however one question I would like an answer to and it goes something like this. 

Do the Munster players feel that they have to, or do they want to, start winning trophies again? There is a very fundamental difference between both questions.

If they feel that they have an onus of responsibility to their fans and the history of the club, this current assemblage of players and coaches will never find their way out of the hole they find themselves. If they look beyond all the history and razmataz of Munster history and create a culture that is born from greed and self-worth, they will cultivate a philosophy that is relevant to their era and theirs alone.

RUTHLESS

This may sound like a ruthless way of playing a sport, but show me a world-class professional athlete and I can guarantee you that's what makes them the champions they have become.

What happened in the past is gone and the sooner Peter O’Mahony, Graham Rowntree and all the players realise this, the sooner they will stamp their imprint in the historical archives of Munster rugby and find a new formula for winning trophies.

Anytime you end up losing a local derby by a single point, you just know that both the physical and mental pain is going to be that little bit harder to get over in the ensuing days.

For Munster, this latest defeat against Leinster now represents four straight losses at home and only one win in 11 outings. 

These statistics are now defying the laws of logic and whilst there are small signs of progress unless their loss-to-win ratio changes very soon, Munster will be saying goodbye to top-flight European grade rugby and hello to the second tier.

With Leo Cullen choosing to rest many of his front-line players for this game, I think we all must have thought that this was Munster’s opportunity to break their duck and continue to make the incremental improvements they have achieved in their last few games, but we were wrong.

Even at the start of the second half when Leinster had a player in the bin and Munster were leading by eight points, it almost seemed that Leinster had planned to be in this position and never panicked.

Their response to Munster being awarded a penalty try and having Max Deegan sent to the sin bin was just incredible and they somehow managed to score two unanswered tries in this 10-minute period. It seems crazy to even suggest it, but they played better with fourteen players and as soon as they regained the lead, they masterfully took control of the clock and kept Munster pinned deep inside their own half of the pitch.

Munster must now dig very deep and somehow travel to Ulster next week and try to regain some of the momentum they have lost because of this defeat at home.

Ulster are no world beaters but they are strong at home!

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