McGahan: Munster must step up few gears
IT is normally a sign of confidence that a team can patrol through third gear and still win pulling up.
That Munster may not seem capable of moving beyond that remains the palpable worry, as a defeat to improving Northampton Saints in Milton Keynes on Saturday may undo all the positive results.
Few would fancy coming to Thomond Park, but few would reckon on Munster beating the odds on the road in a quarter-final.
“That’s the frustration for everyone - fans, coaches, supporters,” acknowledged head coach Tony McGahan, whose position has been secured, with a stronger possibility now that he may be offered another year at the helm as Munster prepare to ease Anthony Foley into a position of greater responsibility.
“We know that’s there and we just need to finish it off. Nobody’s harder on the group than the group itself. They know they have things to work on.
“We recognise the challenge that awaits in Northampton next week. They’re looking for revenge. We need to make sure we step up a few gears.”
After struggling to deal with a transitional period that they hadn’t sufficiently planned for during last season’s failed qualification tilt,
McGahan’s task has arguably been rendered even more difficult this season by injuries and retirements.
Hence, for all the angst about the paltry scoring returns, theirs remains an effort worthy of praise.
“Even if we were at full strength, it would have been a massive struggle to get through this season,” he said.
“Certainly we’d like to be hitting the mark every time in terms of what we’re trying to do but that’s not from a lack of effort or application.
“We need to give the players a massive amount of credit for the way they’ve carried themselves and put themselves into a position where they’re looking for a home quarter.”
Paul O’Connell added: “People are a little over-eager at times. We created a lot and didn’t finish it off.
“Hopefully we can improve. You’d rather be creating and not finishing than not creating. Guys are showing form, which is good. Our basics were very good and they’re good foundations to play from.”