Athletes crave the protection of a bubble, but what happens when it bursts?
Complacency can become the enemy of commitment; Before Dublin football’s great contenders emerged on their historic winning streak, they were enveloped in their own bubble – but it was damaging.
Too many have been immune to the selfless work it takes for an individual to advance a team, too much “showboating,” as the great David Hickey told us the night after the page turned in 2011.
Realizing that it wasn’t just putting on a blue jersey that made you eligible to be a Dublin footballer, it was what you wore in one.
Leinster suffered from this stigma even in her underperforming years, before a similarly radical culture shift threw aside all peacock claims; for Dublin in 2011, see Leinster in 2009.
There have been lapses since then, but the culture remains intact. Ross Molony showed up during one of those burglaries, during Leo Cullen’s first year in office.
He was one of the greenhorns used against Bath, the side’s only win in a dismal European season, having made his debut in a rare trophy-less season a year earlier as Matt O’Connor’s ill-fated tenure unfolded.
There were times when he considered leaving, perhaps even occasions when he struggled to gain an understanding of his role as the club attempted to reestablish its former prominence.
But there would be no shift in standards, as had happened in the days when his current boss, then a player, left a very different Leinster in 2005.
“I think you find out pretty quickly if you have that attitude in Leinster,” he says, asking if there may have been a sense of weakness with the next generation of talent struggling to break through.
“The quality that we have here and you can see the young players like Joe McCarthy rushing onto the stage this year, I don’t think the attitude anyone can have here is comfortable. Because someone is always pushing you out the door.”
Now he’s a senior leader and an integral part of the Leinster fabric, not content just to wear it, but to fill it with substantive accomplishments. It seems unlikely that he will not earn the summer hat he will be denied in 2021 in New Zealand.
“I do, yes,” he insists when asked about his hunger for that ambition.
“Right now I think there are two trophies up for grabs with Leinster. Summer is of course one of my goals, but not on my mind at the moment.
“I’ve said I’m putting everything I can into this team and into my performances with this team. If that goes well, hopefully that will happen at the end of the season.”
Molony’s elevated status within Leinster can be explained in some ways by his history in the competition, from the uncertainty of that tense first year under Cullen to the manager’s unwavering confidence in picking him against Bath in 2022.
The now 27-year-old may have hampered his progress with a familiar backlog of experience, but as he stayed behind to plan Leicester’s fall he was deeply struck by the absence of former team-mates who were commandeered for off-peak duty in South Africa .
“Right now I’m just loving my rugby,” said Molony, one of just two players not to lift a cap in last year’s short summer under Andy Farrell.
“I got that notoriety over the summer, arguably late in career, let’s call it that. I went into a different environment, into an international setup.
“It’s almost a kick, a motivation thing, that this is the level I want to reach. And I feel like I can achieve it.
“There’s a lot of individual skill in terms of line-out calling, kick-off acknowledgments, catch-and-pass stuff, a lot of stuff in there.
“I had to work on that all the time. This is my game and that’s why I’m chosen for these games. So that was probably about the skills.
“Not that I haven’t done any of this before, but it was definitely a little kick I needed. As I know I have a bunch of games together and then keep working on the little things I pick up along the way. I can see what it takes.”
The former school star admits there was no aha moment. Rather, it was about being on all the time.
“It was definitely clear that this is a short career and I have to give everything I can,” he says. “Because when I sit down and look back on my post-rugby career, no matter what age, I want to be happy that I gave it my all to get to the next level.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/leinster-rugby/i-dont-think-comfortable-is-a-mindset-anyone-can-have-here-ross-molony-taking-his-game-to-next-level-41618988.html “I don’t think comfort is a mindset that anyone here can have” – Ross Molony takes his game to the next level