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08th Oct 2023

“I better not say that!” – Dave Kilcoyne pays tribute to Peter O’Mahony

Patrick McCarry

O'Mahony

“He’d fight with his own mother… now she’s over here, so I better not say that!”

Dave Kilcoyne produced another great Peter O’Mahony line as he described the Irish centurion as ‘the heartbeat of Munster and Ireland’. Finn Russell and several other Scottish players may not be singing his praises any time soon, though.

O’Mahony played only 47 minutes in the thumping win over Scotland, but he was around long enough to put in another solid defensive shift, steal a couple of lineouts, rattle some rib-cages and get involved in that WWE-style blow-out, early in the second half.

In the Stade de France mixed zone, Kilcoyne’s tribute to 100-cap O’Mahony was both touching and, at times, hilarious:

On a couple of occasions, O’Mahony and Finn Russell got into some verbals and gesticulating, both needing to be held apart at one stage.

O’Mahony went looking for him after the win-clinching try from Dan Sheehan, but Finn Russell’s full-time gesture says it all about the Cork native and how he is viewed in the game.

Peter O'MahonyPeter O’Mahony and Finn Russell exchange views… twice. (Credit: Getty and Virgin Media)

Peter O’Mahony and Finn Russell

Two minutes into the second half, and with Ireland already 26-0 ahead, Ollie Smith flicked out a leg to try trip Johnny Sexton and sparked a mini melee that saw Pierre Schoeman toss Dan Sheehan over a hoarding board.

Players from both sides rushed to the fray and the only surprise was that Peter O’Mahony was not right in the middle of it all. Well, it took him a while but he soon was – grappling with Duhan van der Merwe and having to be held back when Finn Russell came in to start chirping [see below].

Smith was yellow-carded for his tripping offence, while Schoeman was given a pass. Scotland were down to 14 men and Ireland needed less than three minutes to make the man advantage count, and seal victory. Fittingly, it was Sheehan that cruised over for his side’s fifth score.

Peter O’Mahony was over like a shot to resume his verbals with Finn Russell. As the Ireland players celebrated, he ran right to the Scotland outhalf to remind him of the scoreline, and more. Referee Nic Berry had to scold both men and tell them to go their separate ways.

You can see it here (from 12 seconds) after Sheehan breaks the Russell tackle to score:

Finn Russell’s full-time reaction

As we now know, Peter O’Mahony and his teammates were well aware of the comments from Scotland star Blair Kinghorn, midweek, when he declared Ireland’s 16-match winning streak was going to ‘end on Saturday’.

O’Mahony, making his 100th Test appearance for Ireland, needed no extra motivation, but latched onto it anyway. He was called ashore with over 30 minutes to play, with the job well done. Scotland got two consolation tries but were never a serious threat to this well-honed Irish side.

At full-time, Sportsfile expertly captured a nice exchange between O’Mahony and Finn Russell. Long-time rivals, for club and country, the pair embraced after the final whistle, and shared a few words, and laughs, before going their separate ways.

This is the other side to O’Mahony we do not often get to see. He is a fierce competitor and gets stuck into the opposition whenever he can, but that is all put aside once the game is done. The reaction of Russell and other Scottish players, after the game, shows how much respect he has in the game.

Peter O'MahonyPeter O’Mahony and Finn Russell at full-time. (Credit: Sportsfile)

In the post-match mixed zone, Andrew Porter put it into words what the Cork native means to Ireland.

“Obviously Pete’s one of the most respected players to have worn the Irish jersey and it was an honour to share the field with him today,” he said.

“He’s the lifeblood of this team. He and his family will be incredibly proud of him and it was incredible for us to make the day special for him.”

HOUSE OF RUGBY WITH DARREN CAVE & IAN MADIGAN

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