"Boring" Munster unabashed
Munster star rejects criticism of Red Army's style
Last Updated: May 26, 2008 11:43am
Donncha O'Callaghan remained unapologetic as Munster put efficiency before entertainment to claim a bruising 16-13 Heineken Cup victory over Toulouse.
Munster's powerful pack did much to curb the exuberance and flair of their French opponents with the boot of Ronan O'Gara eventually proving decisive.
Having edged ahead with a quarter of an hour remaining, the Red Army closed out the game in clinical fashion, even declining a late penalty to ensure Toulouse had no chance of getting the ball back in hand.
While never a thrilling spectacle, it mattered little to outgoing coach Declan Kidney and his troops with O'Callaghan insisting the ends had more than justified the means.
"It may be boring but who cares?" the Irish international stated defiantly. "I have got a medal in my pocket.
"It's incredible. We knew it was going to come down to small margins. The thing is that you learn from experience from the tight games you play like this before.
"It comes from playing in the All Ireland League, schoolboy rugby and how to win it out. It might be boring but who cares? It is effective for us.
"There was just such a great sense of belief even when we were behind the posts after their try (to level the scores at 13-13).
O'Callaghan admitted he and his team-mates were delighted to wave new Ireland coach Kidney and his staff off with a win, and second Heineken Cup triumph, adding: "It's great that we are sending the coaches off on the biggest high possible."
For his part, an overjoyed Kidney said: "It was an emotional dressing room - it was a special place to be.
"To win this trophy once is special, but twice is a dream, it is something else. Not many teams finish on top against Toulouse."
Another harsh lesson for Kelleher
Toulouse's New Zealand scrum half Byron Kelleher found himself on the end of more Millennium Stadium heartbreak having also been part of the All Black side defeated 20-18 by France at the same venue in the World Cup quarter final last year.
With effective rather than expansive rugby once again having won the day, Kelleher admitted there were lessons to be learnt in the pursuit of success.
"Finals are about winning and you do whatever it takes to win," he conceded.
"The reputation of the All Blacks is definitely being able to play with the ball and we have players who have natural ability to do that.
"But we weren't smart enough in that World Cup. You have to integrate the two together because in finals and in the World Cup the style changes.
"Munster know how to be smart, they certainly know how to close out a game. It was similar to the World Cup, where teams went into a nutshell and played safe and boring rugby to win the game.
"I think it is really good for New Zealanders to experience playing over here and hopefully then return home to grow the knowledge in New Zealand."