Search icon


20th Mar 2024

Ryan Baird makes the most touching and personal of Peter O’Mahony tributes

Patrick McCarry

Ryan Baird

“I cherish playing with him.”

While the likes of Caelan Doris, Jack Conan and James Lowe were on the corporate beat, Peter O’Mahony was finishing up his captain’s media duties and the rest of the Ireland squad partied, Ryan Baird stepped forward and took one for the squad.

The versatile Leinster forward started the home win over Italy but had otherwise been used as an impact sub over the course of the Six Nations. There has been much speculation over whether O’Mahony will finish up with Ireland, ahead of the summer tour to South Africa. If he does step away, Baird and Leinster teammate will be the two men pushing hardest to start in the Irish back row.

Following the 17-3 victory over Scotland, we asked Baird what it was like to be playing, and winning, alongside a guy he grew up watching, and learning from. Baird sat back in his seat and declared:

“He epitomises what it is to be an Irish rugby player. I said to him, before the game, how much I look up to him. I said it to him after, too. I idolise him. I’m so fortunate to play with him, as well. The way he carries himself – he’s such good fun, off the pitch. He’s such a serious, hard worker, on the pitch. You can see that it is everything to him. I’m just so privileged to be led by him.”

Ryan Baird
Ryan Baird, left, and Peter O’Mahony of Ireland pictured during the 2023 Six Nations. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile)

Ryan Baird on Peter O’Mahony example

Heading into the 2024 Six Nations, Peter O’Mahony was feeling the heat, for a starting role, from in-form blindsides like Ryan Baird, Tom Ahern and Cian Prendergast. Another option was Caelan Doris switching to blindside to accommodate Jack Conan at No.8.

We asked Baird what the big lessons he took from O’Mahony, and if the Ireland captain went as hard in training as he did in matches. Baird chuckled, probably remembering some training ground battles in Faro and in Blancardstown. He commented:

“He trains incredibly hard. He delivers week on week. Consistency is his friend. He is so consistent in how he delivers ad how he prepares. I guess that’s what I am taking from him – can I deliver consistent performances? It’s all well and good doing it for two or three weeks, or one week on, one week off. Can I do it the whole time? That’s the biggest thing I have taken from him.”

Baird is back at Leinster, following the Six Nations celebrations, and may be considered for this weekend’s game against Zebre. The big game for Ireland’s Leinster contingent to get up to speed will be a home tie with Bulls, a week before the Easter weekend clash with Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup.

O’Mahony and Munster have Ospreys and Cardiff in the United Rugby Championship before travelling to Northampton on April 7, in the Champions Cup. There is a chance Baird and O’Mahony will face off against each other in the closing stages of the URC or Champions Cup (or both), when the gloves will come back off.

At Aviva Stadium, though, as the Six Nations title party was well underway, Baird leaned forward as he mused a question about what O’Mahony meant to this younger generation of Irish rugby players.

“To be in the same position as well, I pinch myself when I get to sit down and talk with him,” he said. “He’s such an incredible player and, more importantly, person. I cherish playing with him.

“You could tell before the game how much it meant to him and to see your captain speak with such emotion and passion, it can’t help but to get everybody ready for the game. He showed his true colours. It was a really nice speech.”


*Join SportsJOE’s WhatsApp community for first access to news, sports updates, and quizzes. Click on this link to receive news and the latest sports headlines directly to your phone.  You can leave the group at any time.

WATCH: Liverpool BOTTLED the title race 🤬 | Who will win the Premier League?