Clermont Auvergne 16-10 Munster, Heineken Cup semi-final
O'Gara plays down retirement talk
April 27, 2013
Ronan O'Gara reflects on Munster's euro exit at the hands of Clermont Auvergne © Getty Images
Munster's Ronan O'Gara has shrugged off any talk of impending retirement after making a tearful exit from this season's Heineken Cup at the hands of Clermont Auvergne.
The 36-year-old conjured a superb try for Denis Hurley but it was not enough to keep Munster's euro hopes alive with their French rivals claiming a narrow 16-10 victory at the Stade de la Mosson to book a final date with either Saracens or Toulon.
A clearly emotional O'Gara appeared a little reluctant to leave the field following his side's brave showing and in doing so fuelled rumours that this would be his last appearance in the Heineken Cup - a competition in which he has now scored 1,365 points in 110 games going back to his debut in 1997. But the fly-half refused to concede he is about to hang up his boots and insisted it would have been disrespectful to his team-mates.
"It's not the time for me to be thinking or talking about retirement. I owed it to my team-mates to be totally focused on the game today and I was," he told Sky Sports. "I love coming to France and playing and this competition have given me the best memories. I will sleep on it until the end of the season, but it will be hard to leave this beauty (Munster captain Paul O'Connell) on his own next season."
Reflecting on his side's battling display against the Top 14 leaders, he said: "Defeat is extremely hard to take after you have put so much into a game like that. But it is winner takes all in a semi-final. This is an unbelievable competition and it was an incredible atmosphere. It was a fantastic occasion to be a part of, but the only reason we play is to win.
"There was some serious resilience from Munster and I am proud to be a part of the team. Someone said to me earlier in the week that Clermont would beat the French team and it was Test match intensity out there.
"We are growing and getting better as a team, but we gave them too much of a start. When we come away from home you ask for character from a team and we certainly showed that - we gave our all."
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