We can’t let un­ac­cept­able stan­dards creep back into camp, says Co­nan

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY DAVID KELLY

IT’S DIF­FI­CULT to pick holes in Le­in­ster right now but, as surely as they have un­locked so many com­pli­cated com­bi­na­tions this sea­son, you can be as­sured they know their lim­i­ta­tions as well as any­one else.

While they re­main the envy of so many — Mun­ster lead­ing the way with ad­mir­ing, if jeal­ous, glances this week — even Leo Cullen’s men are af­flicted by a case of the ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’.

Last week­end’s Cham­pi­ons Cup tri­umph was jus­ti­fi­ably hailed as a vic­tory for all in UCD HQ, from coaches and play­ers to those in track­suits or suits.

But although the fi­nal run-in has swept Le­in­ster towards the sum­mit once more, and on the verge of a unique tro­phy dou­ble for this is­land, there may be the mildest anx­i­ety.

While the strength of Le­in­ster’s squad has been re­peat­edly hailed by all, there have been mi­nor chinks in the ar­mour sur­fac­ing of late that may cause jit­ters ahead of this week’s semi-fi­nal.

Twice in the last month the per­ceived shadow side have suc­cumbed in hum­bling cir­cum­stances; first, to an his­toric home de­feat to Ital­ian op­po­si­tion, and then in em­bar­rass­ing ca­pit­u­la­tion against a Con­nacht side who had com­piled a dis­mal sea­son.

In the fever­ish race to anoint the Blues as a dom­i­nant force for the next decade, some per­spec­tive may be re­quired.

Let Jack Co­nan take over the story of how the past month has panned out for the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.

“In pre­vi­ous weeks, we’d mas­sive games and then the next week we didn’t have as much on the line when we went in and mas­sively un­der­per­formed against teams up for it more than we were which is never an ac­cept­able stan­dard,” he said.

Although the collectives may have tanked in those afore­men­tioned games, some of the in­di­vid­u­als emerged un­scathed; Co­nan has led the way even if he con­cedes his own high stan­dards plunged, too.

“I was a bit dis­ap­pointed not to start last week but I hadn’t been per­form­ing,” he said.

“I’d had an in­jury in the last few weeks. That gave me a short window to get back and play and the only game that I did get to start in was the Con­nacht game which wasn’t a glow­ing au­di­tion.

“But you have to swal­low your pride and get on with it. It’s about the col­lec­tive, you can’t be sit­ting around, sulk­ing and feel­ing bad for your­self.”

And Le­in­ster don’t want to stop now.

“It’s been fan­tas­tic, win­ning at the week­end,” added Co­nan. “But when you’re look­ing back in two months, you’d be re­flect­ing in a dif­fer­ent man­ner. If we don’t fin­ish on a high it’s go­ing to be tar­nished in some small way.” Les­son learned: Jack Co­nan knows Blues took eye off ball

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