Paul O'Connell: "We all loved Roy Keane. We were almost modelling ourselves on him"

Munster and Ireland legend chats to Ger and Joe at our Cork Opera House show

BY Raf Diallo 20:14 Wednesday 11 October 2017, 20:14 11 Oct 2017

Paul O'Connell with the Heineken Cup ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Tonight, Ireland and Munster rugby legend Paul O'Connell was one of our special guests tonight for our Cork Opera House Roadshow with Heineken Ireland.

Joining Ger and Joe on stage, the former Ireland captain is "enjoying the break from the game" and is relaxed about the prospect of waiting before perhaps potentially going into coaching or not one day.

Looking back on his early rugby career as a Munster youngster, he remembered a time when they had heated debates together and a willingness to have argue their points - along with a nickname to symbolise that.  

"Roy Keane was there at the time and we all loved Roy Keane. We were almost modelling ourselves on him," he said, adding that it became a nickname. 

"That was the nickname Quinny gave to me and Quinny used. No one else really used it - maybe ROG a little bit. In fairness, Dunners actually used to use it as well and that's because Donncha doesn't fall out with anyone, right, so if there ever an issue, Dunners would come over to me and say, 'Your man is doing A, B and C here, it's not on' and I'd go over and I'd have the big argument."

Speaking of Donncha O'Callaghan, his former Munster team-mate had told us a story involving O'Connell and a Batman movie at an empty cinema on a Lions trip in which he was - allegedly - incensed by the fact that Batman started flying without practicing.

"Like all Donncha's stories, he doesn't let the truth get in the way of what happened," he began.

"It went through Batman and all the stuff he'd invented to become Bruce Wayne to Batman. But it actually never explained how he managed to learn how to fly.

"He built the amazing car and he explained how it does all the things it's doing and then all of a sudden he was flying. It was the only point I was making."    

O'Connell recalled the Rob Penney era at Munster, which were not successful in terms of trophies, but had opportunities for progress according to the former second row, who touched on how his game evolved - and perhaps could have evolved even more than it did.

"For me, I wish it was something I embraced a little bit more. He really wanted you to try and play. I remember one of the first games - I'd been injured when he first arrived - was an A game, Munster A vs Leinster A and I was in the middle of the pod of four which was the way we played and I was in the middle playing like Aly Muldowney or Brodie Rettalick and I remember I had a really good game. I put a few people into holes with passes which wouldn't be a big part of my game. I just wished I'd probably continued on pushing myself a little bit that way and playing that way because I'd never been encouraged to play that way by anyone before," he said.

"He was a coach that wanted us to play and express ourselves and you look at what Connacht ended up doing when they stuck with it over time and became confident in what they were doing and had an amazing season that year which culminated with them winning in Murrayfield." 

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