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27th Feb 2015

Marty Moore tells us about the breakfast-time psych sessions that have made Ireland champions

Great minds think alike

Patrick McCarry

The queue for Enda McNulty’s soothing words is longer than the queue for the Shelbourne Hotel’s cinnamon porridge.

Ireland’s players have stuck to the brief this week – taking on England, the old enemy, at a sold-out Aviva Stadium in a potential Six Nations decider is just another game. Important, yes, but no less important than the rest.

The task at hand is grand. To put themselves in control of the table, Ireland must defeat a team against whom they have scored just one try against in four matches [and defeats]. To that end, the Irish players are taking advice and support where they can find it. Many wind up at the door of a man credited with rejuvenating Brian O’Driscoll’s career – Enda McNulty.  The former Armagh GAA star now works as a performance philologist for the IRFU.

Ireland tight-head prop Marty Moore told us, ‘I’ve spent a lot of the times with Enda. I met him the morning of the French game to have a bit of breakfast and a sit-down,; just about focusing the mind on my job and not worrying about external factors.

‘Trying to stay as relaxed as possible until it comes to the time to go to the stadium. Any energy wasted beforehand is energy wasted, it’s not going to make a difference to your performance or the result.’

Jonathan Sexton, Greg Feek and Enda McNulty 4/3/32013

Ireland lock Devin Toner does not think he will be queueing with Moore this Sunday morning. He said:

‘It’s a very personal thing. I personally don’t speak to him that often. I used to do a little bit in the team situation, but personally I find that I’m quite laid-back. I don’t really get as nervous as I used to, so I’m kind of blocking it out myself. I prefer doing that myself coming into it. But a lot of the guys do go to him and a lot of lads get a lot of positive stuff out of it.’

However, it is not as if Toner is bulletproof when it comes to pre-match jitters.

‘I didn’t say there was no nerves; I said there was less nerves than I used to. I’ve a few more games under my belt, but I’ll still have a few butterflies going into the game. That’s all good I suppose.’

‘Cian Marler’

Moore was peppered with questions about a possible bind-to-bind encounter with Harlequins scrum menace Joe Marler, who gave Mike Ross a tough time in the Champions Cup this season.

‘I haven’t played against Joe since last year in Twickenham,’ he said. ‘Last year in Twickenham, Rossy had a good day against Joe. We had a pretty solid set piece ball all day. Obviously there was a game where maybe the Leinster pack, we didn’t play as well in the Aviva which was a bad day but these things happen. It is a different environment here and a different team.’

Moore says Cian Healy and Jack McGrath have played a crucial part in steeling up for Sunday’s front row battle.

He says, ‘It has probably been the toughest week we have had preparation-wise at scrum time, and a lot of that is down to the two lads, because they are trying to replicate the way Marler and Mako Vunipola will scrummage against us.

‘Myself and Rossy have probably had the hardest scrum sessions that I’ve been involved in at Carton House.’

Asked who came out on top in Ireland’s loosies versus tight battles, Moore remarked, ‘We won our fair share.’

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