Peter O'Mahony comes up with huge moment on night he was proved human 2 years ago

Peter O'Mahony comes up with huge moment on night he was proved human

"We're never a team to roll over, especially not at home."

Lying on the ground, ball in hand after he had re-gathered it, Peter O'Mahony scrunched his eyes closed. Losing a lineout, for O'Mahony, is never acceptable. Losing a lineout after a trick play inside your own 22 will be something that disgusts him.


For so long, at Thomond Park, the Munster captain has been the talisman. The guy that comes up with the big plays to inspire his side and to invoke roars and exultations from the Munster faithful.

On Saturday, as Racing 92 threatened a rare feat, it was not going his way. Far from it.

Early in a hotly contested game, Niall Scannell failed to find O'Mahony at the back of a Munster lineout. It would be the beginning of that set-pieces issues and it troubled Johann Van Graan's side for the first hour.

Munster are trying to keep the ball alive in play a lot more than you - have you watched them much over the past 20 years - will be unaccustomed to.


To that end, many at the ground and at home, would have been surprised to see O'Mahony attempting a no-look, tip-on pass that was intended for Tadhg Beirne. It went to Antoine Claassen and it almost led to a try.

Minutes later came the lineout that caused O'Mahony such grief. The were a certain logic to it - a quick Scannell dart to the front of the lineout - but O'Mahony could not clutch on. The ball went forward and O'Mahony, having scrambled to recover it, tossed it away and let out an anguished roar.

Munster went 3-0 ahead before, either side of a second JJ Hanrahan penalty, Racing scored two super tries through Finn Russell and Teddy Thomas. 14-6 ahead and pressing for more, Niall Scannell made a crucial turnover that gave Munster another swing at their opponents. They made it count when good hands by the backline gave Keith Earls a chance he greedily took.


Hanrahan missed the conversion from the Earls try but his penalty, early in the second half, made it 14-14. Racing were on top, though, regardless of the scoreline and they looked likely to score next.

So it proved when Russell - as wily as he is electric - spotted a hobbling Jeremy Loughman in the defensive line. He gunned for him and was through the gap. O'Mahony was on the other side of that chasm and his desperate tackle attempt was not enough. Russell was through and Juan Imhoff, in support, benefited with the try.

21-14 ahead and piling on the pressure, Munster were struggling to get out of their 22, let alone their half. The usual go-to guys for Munster - O'Mahony, CJ Stander, Tadhg Beirne, Keith Earls - were tied up in defence and unable to break the shackles.

"Around 50 minutes in," O'Mahony mused post-match,"we weren't anywhere close to a draw."


Munster's only hoping would be Racing being unable to go full tilt for the full 80 minutes. So it proved and the Munster bench provided the impetus that their French counterparts could not. Chris Farrell was getting Munster on the front-foot with every carry and the crowd was abuzz any time Andrew Conway got his mitts on the ball. Billy Holland, James Cronin and Arno Botha made a difference too.

Munster are like Manchester United were in the Alex Ferguson era. No matter the situation, or how they have performed, their players and fans always feel they are always in with a scoring chance.

With the clock winding down and Racing happy to give away penalties - bravely putting bodies on the line - it took a moment of class from JJ Hanrahan, cutting out two teammates and floating a pass over the onrushing defence, to set up Andrew Conway for the try. Munster still needed Hanrahan to nail a touchline conversion to level but, in deathly silence, he did.

Keith Earls then unleashed a stunning kick just after the Racing restart and there was a lineout for the French side to win if they wanted to have a say in this game. That was when O'Mahony put aside an indifferent performance and found a big play within himself.


Sub hooker Teddy Baubigny threw for Wenceslaus Lauret in the lineout but O'Mahony sprung up and did enough - just about enough - to get a finger-tip on the ball and force a mistake. Munster won the loose ball and they had one last chance to snatch it.

The pack did their job and set up Hanrahan for a drop at goal, from inside the Racing 22. It was supposed to go over but the connection was not clean and it screwed horribly wide.

"JJ would be disappointed himself after but he shouldn't be," said O'Mahony. "I thought he had a class performance and that conversion was certainly out of the top drawer."

A draw it was and a strange feeling at the end but, as Thomond Park was left with stragglers and empty beer cups, those O'Mahony words held true.

"We're never a team to roll over, especially not at home."

Even when all the evidence suggests otherwise, these lads don't know when they're beat. O'Mahony is the living embodiment of that spirit.