Connacht legend Muldoon finally gets reward for his incredible efforts

Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield

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IF ANYONE DESERVED to lift the Pro12 trophy this evening, it was John Muldoon.

After his 275th appearance for Connacht, and a performance that saw him named man of the match, the 33-year-old finally got his hands on a trophy.

His team-mates has spoken about being motivated by the opportunity to reward their captain in this final against Leinster and their delight for the Portumna man was clear at the final whistle.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In his 13th season, the most Connacht man of them all finally has a winner’s medal.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Muldoon afterwards. “You dream of days like this and you dream of being part of days like this but it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet anyway. It’s absolute euphoria in the changing room and I’m delighted for all the lads.

“We spoke all week about wanting to go out there and wanting to perform and do what we’ve done all year and I think we did that. That’s the most pleasing aspect of it, the fact that we didn’t go into our shells.

“I’m delighted for everybody. It’s a good day.”

The Connacht support at Murrayfield was outstanding, with a sea of green in the 34,550 attendance.

The western province’s supporters waited around the West Stand entrance from hours before the game in order to show their support for Pat Lam’s side when they arrived at Murrayfield.

When the Connacht bus pulled into view, the reception was deafening.

“We came in to the sea of green and the Fields of Athenry and we were walking in with shivers down our spine,” said Muldoon when asked if this win felt like destiny. “It just felt good and I suppose that’s probably destiny, if that’s the answer you’re looking for.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“My missus was working a couple of weeks back and she went to some fortune teller but she wouldn’t tell me the outcome of it. But we were getting to the final in this fortune telling but she wouldn’t tell me the result.

“I’ll definitely ask her now what she said, but she told me we were getting to the final three weeks ago. Maybe that’s destiny.”

For Muldoon, victory was all the sweeter for the manner in which Connacht played. Yet again, their attack was highly ambitious and hugely effective. Lam’s men refused to be inhibited by the occasion and ran with the ball in hand at will.

Three tries through Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy were their just rewards.

“We all watch sport because we know that on any given day, anyone can win,” said Muldoon. ”That’s the beauty of sport and it can be beautiful, but also very, very cruel. In the back of our minds coming into today we’ve known that even though we had a great year this could be cruel.

“We wanted to go out and play like we’ve been playing. That’s the big thing that we’ve been hammering home, ‘don’t fall back into habits of old.’

“People in the stand and in the crowd were probably thinking of the Grenoble game but we’ve learned valuable lessons and we went up 14 or 15 point against them. Today we didn’t panic like we did over there maybe, we’ve learned lessons.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We have a game plan and no matter what people say, we stick to it wholeheartedly. We’ve bought into it massively. You’ve got to credit the lads for that and I don’t think everyone would do that.

“It’s taken Pat and the management team a while to do that but we’ve bought into it and we’ve seen the results of it today and all year.

“It takes a lot of balls to do that, it does.

“It takes ball to buy wholeheartedly into what the management team are telling you. We’ve been in the Sportsground when people are shouting to kick and we just do what we do. It’s won us the championship.”

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