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16th Mar 2024

The Six Nations trophy gestures that sum up Peter O’Mahony as captain

Patrick McCarry


“It was a nice moment.”

Not long after Peter O’Mahony was announced over the public address system, the music was building to a crescendo. The Ireland captain would not be rushed.

O’Mahony waited before any trophy lift until all of the wider Ireland squad, including injured players Hugo Keenan, James Ryan and Ciáran Frawley, were up on the dais and ready to share the spotlight. Tom Stewart, Craig Casey, Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale and more of the lads were there – contributions across the championship not forgotten.

Andy Farrell later confirmed, following Ireland’s Six Nations title-clinching win over Scotland, that the injured Mack Hansen, Rob Herring Jimmy O’Brien and Dave Kilcoyne had all been invited up, too. “This is their team,” he insisted.

As for the trophy lift itself, there was another touching moment as O’Mahony asked tighthead Tadhg Furlong to lift the trophy with him. Furlong lost his father, James to cancer in December 2023. On that trophy lift, the Ireland captain would explain:

“It was a nice moment for Tadhg and his family. I thought it was appropriate. He’s had a tough few months, so have his family and I don’t want to go into it too much.”

There is an empathy and a togetherness in this Ireland squad – not just within the playing and coaching staff, it stretches far beyond. Down on the Lansdowne Road pitch, Ryan Baird spoke about winning for more than himself and the team. “A few people are leaving the group,” he said. “We wanted to do something special for them.”

While some of us in the press started to think of the squad’s 30+ players, it was then confirmed that Baird was mainly thinking of support and backroom staff leaving the group, although O’Mahony may yet follow them.


Andy Farrell on ‘proper Test match’

Ireland were sluggish in the first half and, when they upped the ante in the second 40, let Scotland off the hook with some strange handling errors. When they twice got over the tryline – through Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw – the referee, Matthew Carley and TMO went against them.

Scotland, in reality, were clinging on. Andrew Porter’s try sealed the title and the best Scotland looked was a Huw Jones consolation score in the final minutes.

“It was a proper Test match,” said Andy Farrell in the press briefing. “Ultimately, we’re delighted. We’re about winning championships and it’s so hard to do that’s why I’m so unbelievably, unbelievably proud.”

Peter O’Mahony admitted, “It was one of the toughest days, nerve-wise.” On trying to soak up those post-match moments on the pitch, with teammates, staff, family and friends, the Cork native reflected:

“It’s hard because it is so special. You want it to last for hours. I spoke to Willie Bennett, the masseuse, who has been with Ireland team for 35 years. He told us, even before the game, that it wasn’t always like this… I’ve had days like that, too, heading into the final game with almost nothing but pride to play for.”

While O’Mahony would not give a definitive answer on his career, Farrell wanted to pay some sort of tribute after his winning campaign as captain. “Whatever is right for him,” the coach said of his captain. “I’ve been a big fan of Pete, his whole career.”

Asked if his squad could kick on, especially with South Africa awaiting, this summer, Farrell replied, “I sure hope so. It was a fantastic campaign for this group. We were continuing on from where we left off at the World Cup.”


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