O’Mahony: Joe has changed outlook for young generations
By Daire Walsh
Despite the disappointment of last Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final exit to New Zealand, Peter O’Mahony insists Joe Schmidt vacates his role as Ireland head coach with considerable credit in the bank.
Over the course of his six-and-a-half years in charge, Schmidt secured three Six Nations championships, including the Grand Slam in 2018. He previously enjoyed a memorable three-season stint at Leinster — steering the province to back-to-back Heineken Cups (2011 and 2012), a European Challenge Cup, and a PRO12 title (both 2013).
“I think for me, he’s changed the prospect and the outlook on rugby for young generations, which is probably the biggest thing you could say about any person’s career,” O’Mahony said after the Ireland squad touched down at Dublin Airport on Tuesday night.
“There are kids in Ireland now who will be expecting to be successful, expecting to win trophies regularly. There will be a big huge portion of that which will be down to Joe’s work and his contribution to Irish rugby.
Before then, he will be given a temporary break from competitive action — giving him time to reflect on the crushing defeat to the All Blacks.
“Whatever the lads [Irish coaches] think. They’ll be chatting to the provinces and that sort of thing. I think a rest is the main thing at the moment.
“Just to refresh the body, refresh the mind, and we’ll see what the story is over the next couple of weeks.
“I haven’t had a chance to look back at it [Saturday’s game]. Obviously we didn’t perform to where we need to be performing or where we want to be performing.”
In contrast to four years ago — when he missed out on a last-eight reversal to Argentina through injury — O’Mahony played 57 minutes in the Irish back-row last weekend before making way for Leinster counterpart Rhys Ruddock.
The Cork native has experienced highs and lows throughout his professional career — which began in January 2010 with an interprovincial derby away to Ulster — but is adamant there are more good days to come for him in the red and green jerseys.
“We’ve always learned from our experiences and you probably learn most from disappointment. I certainly hope that it’s not a defining moment for my career, but look, all these experiences and moments in careers are ones we’ll always look back on for reference for future success hopefully,” said O’Mahony.