As a captain and player, this was one of Peter O'Mahony's finest moments
Young fans across Munster would have been buzzing by their side's display against Munster.
On Monday of last week, a clip of Peter O'Mahony sending a good luck message to a UL Bohs team, ahead of a match with Garryowen, was sent my way. Never intended to go beyond the team itself, O'Mahony and Bohs would soon find life does not work that way in 2021.
The gee-up part of the message was perfectly fine. It would have been some spur for the Bohs lads. The Munster captain over-stepped the mark, though, by dropping an F-bomb and making a 'never liked them' comment about Garryowen. This was an U15s game and such words from the captain of the province would have stung the young Garryowen players.
However it first got outside the Bohs circle, the clip was then getting bounced around for most of last week. It was only a matter of time before it was shared on a bigger platform. In the end, it became a front page newspaper story.
The Cork native reached out to Garryowen privately and offered his apologies. He has also vowed to get in to see the U15s team too, as soon as he can.
It was the sub-plot few of us were expecting in the middle of a manic and memorable two weeks for Munster rugby. It was a fortnight that ended with Munster going to Wasps to play a European Cup match without more than 30 senior players and much of their coaching staff.
The English side had selection issues of their own - forced into Covid-related squad changes on match-day - but the manner of Munster's 35-14 victory was remarkable. 12 youngsters from the province made senior debuts and showed the future could yet be very bright.
"It genuinely rates right up the very top of it," O'Mahony declared after the game.
Looking closely at the 32-year-old's own performance, it was right at the very top, too.
Peter O'Mahony sets the early tone
Wasps would have been badly jarred by so many line-up changes to their original XV but were looking for a fast start. An early score would have punctured the exuberance of the youthful Munster side and, two minutes in, it looked a dead cert.
A Wasps offload, and a smart line from openside Thomas Youngs, saw Tadhg Beirne and Damian De Allende taken out in one go. Peter O'Mahony was the covering defender in the 22 but Young had the jump on him and looked to burn the Munster captain on the outside.
Showing a late burst that many of us equate to his try-saving tackle against New Zealand in 2018, O'Mahony pinned the ears back and hoicked to the corner. He got there in time to bundle Youngs out of play, as Keith Earls plunged in to prevent any reach for the line.
This Peter O’Mahony tackle really set the stall out early for Munster today. pic.twitter.com/JundyV3rMR
— RugbyLAD (@RugbyLAD7) December 12, 2021
Munster made their own luck
As a captain, Peter O'Mahony would have done most of his best work ahead of the match as he primed his shadow squad of teammates, old and new, for a huge challenge.
On Wednesday last, he faced the media and was as upbeat and positive as we have seen him in years [there was even a Keith Earls gag thrown in]. He declared:
"You get a real insight into what we're producing in the academy and beyond. So it's been great that way, getting to know the guys has been brilliant but there's been loads of challenges."
On the outside, it was no bothers. This was a mountain of a task and few would blame Munster for shipping an away loss, under the circumstances and with most of the senior squad still in quarantine.
On the inside, O'Mahony would have know how difficult it would be to go to England and get the win. There were some decent prospects in the group of young lads, and several internationals that did not travel to South Africa for the ill-fated United Rugby Championship trip. But Munster would need a lot to go their way to get the win.
On Sunday, they got some breaks with the Wasps XV changes and the tough red card call on their captain, Brad Shields. Aside from that, Munster's makeshift side made their own luck and they were driven on, through every phase of the game, by their captain.
In the final moments, with the game already won and a bonus point in the bag, O'Mahony got up in a defensive lineout [inside the Munster 22] and made a steal for his second turnover of the day.
If there is any video that should be widely circulated around this week, it should be a highlight reel of O'Mahony doing what he does best - embodying the mongrel spirit that drives this Munster side on.