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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2006, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
O'Connell expecting great final
Paul O'Connell embraces team-mate Tomas O'Leary after the match
Paul O'Connell produced a magnificent display for Munster
Paul O'Connell described Munster's 30-6 Heineken Cup win over Leinster as "massive" but said beating Biarritz in the final would be a "huge challenge".

The man of the match said: "It was a great game but you have to concentrate on what it is, a semi-final.

"On our day, maybe we can beat Biarritz but they are an outstanding side and it should be a great contest."

Munster have twice been Heineken Cup finalists but have never won European club rugby's most prestigious prize.

Biarritz beat Bath 18-9 in the other semi-final on Saturday.

O'Connell added that team-mate John Kelly had helped inspire the team with some rousing pre-match words.

Kelly had to depart the fray in the first half after taking a knock and his replacement Rob Henderson was also forced off late in the game because of injury.

"It was very emotional. You're playing with best friends out there. John Kelly spoke before the game in the dressing-room.

I thought a 13-point lead at half-time might be a point or two, too small
Declan Kidney
Munster coach

"He's an incredible person, a great, great player and a great Munster man.

"We also had messages from Dominic Crotty and other great Munster players from down through the years."

Munster coach Declan Kidney, who was in charge of Leinster last season, appeared to be a tad generous to his former team when he claimed that his current side had got some crucial "rubs of the green".

"The ball came off the post when the game was really tight," said Kidney.

"There was quite a stiff breeze out there and I thought a 13-point lead at half-time might be a point or two, too small.

"And you are never sure that your defence is going to hold up against a team that has such a good attack as the Leinster backline."

Disappointed Leinster coach Michael Cheika said his team had "never developed any rhythm" in Sunday's contest.

It would be harsh criticising Felipe Contepomi
Leinster coach Michael Cheika

"That was because of the opposition. They took the ball away and did not let us play," said Cheika.

"It's funny because a team known for its skills and not its guts hung in through sheer courage and I'm proud of the boys for that.

"We stood up to an onslaught which would have put any team away early in the second half. We hung in there and that gave us a chance.

"But we didn't get a try and our game is about scoring tries. We made simple errors that let them back into the game."

Cheika refused to lay any blame on his playmaker Felipe Contepomi whose performance contrasted with the 20-point masterclass produced by opposite number Ronan O'Gara.

"It would be harsh criticising Felipe. I'm a realist and at the start of the year no-one gave him the time of day.

"Any criticism is not really warranted. He couldn't pass the ball in the first half because they were all over him and they were on the front foot."



SEE ALSO
Leinster 6-30 Munster
23 Apr 06 |  European Club
Biarritz 18-9 Bath
22 Apr 06 |  European Club


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