Rugby

More Six Nations glory means ‘absolutely everything’ to Ireland – Peter O’Mahony

Ireland are on the verge of a fifth title in 11 years going into Saturday evening’s Dublin showdown with Scotland.

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony has his sights set on silverware
Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony during a press conference Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony has his sights set on silverware (Brian Lawless/PA)

Peter O’Mahony insists further Guinness Six Nations glory means “absolutely everything” to Ireland and stressed his countrymen would have metaphorically sacrificed limbs for such success in the recent past.

Retaining the championship crown has been touted as an anti-climax for Andy Farrell’s side after the holy grail of historic back-to-back Grand Slams was extinguished by last week’s agonising 23-22 loss to England.

Ireland are on the verge of a fifth title in 11 years going into Saturday evening’s Dublin showdown with Scotland, having endured a drought of more than two decades between 1985 and 2009.

Captain O’Mahony, who contributed to each of those successes, remembers the barren era and dismissed the suggestion current expectations have devalued the achievement of winning the tournament without a 100 per cent record.

“No, I don’t think so because it’s so rare,” said the 34-year-old.

“I know we’ve had a few in our most recent history but going back over a long period, we’re way down the list of championships won.

“You’re talking about back-to-back Grand Slams and no one has done it because it’s so hard, that’s why.

Ireland are reigning Grand Slam champions
Ireland are reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland are reigning Grand Slam champions (Brian Lawless/PA)

“You’ve got to win 10 Six Nations games in a row, win five away from home. It’s unbelievably difficult to win a game away from home in this championship, if you look at the stats across the board.

“So it’s everything to us tomorrow. Absolutely everything to us, another championship.

“It’s probably a manner of the Irish psyche, ‘Jesus, another championship’, you know what I mean? When all of a sudden a few years ago you’d have taken your arm and your leg off for one.

“We’re still in the same boat, it matters a massive amount to us. It’s what we’re here for, that’s the be all and end all of it, we’re here to win a championship for our country and it couldn’t mean any more to us.”

Ireland will be crowned champions by avoiding defeat to Gregor Townsend’s side or claiming two losing bonus points, while a single bonus point is also likely to be sufficient.

However, a pointless defeat would leave Farrell’s men sweating on the outcome of England’s clash with France in Lyon.

Ireland are seeking a 10th-successive win over their rivals, while Scotland have a slim chance of snatching the title but are realistically aiming for a first Triple Crown since 1990.

Munster flanker O’Mahony anticipates another feisty affair following last year’s fiery Rugby World Cup pool-stage clash in Paris, which the Irish won 36-14 to eliminate the Scots.

Tempers flared during Ireland’s World Cup win over Scotland in October
Tempers flared during Ireland's World Cup win over Scotland in October Tempers flared during Ireland’s World Cup win over Scotland in October (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“It’s a competitive game and both teams always get stuck in and that’s what you want, isn’t it? You want both teams flat out,” he said.

“We’re not playing tennis or golf, you know what I mean? It’s a physical game and you’ve got to get stuck in and you’ve got to be on the edge – and that’s rugby.

“It will be very special if we win it.”