The disappointment of Magners League Grand Final defeat may still linger long and hard with the Leinster faithful but one of their star performers insists the region has come a long way in recent years.
Leinster were looking to secure a third trophy in three seasons when they faced the Ospreys in the league’s inaugural showpiece event but the Dubliners fell just short at the final hurdle a fortnight ago.
That 17-12 defeat at the RDS was the final match in the five-year reign of head coach Michael Cheika who takes over at French giants Stade Francais next season.
Openside flanker Shane Jennings skippered Leinster in the absence of club captain Leo Cullen during that agonising loss but the Ireland international was quick to praise his departing coach for the way the Australian has improved the club’s fortunes since his arrival in 2005.
And despite a number of high-profile departures this summer, Jennings is convinced that the foundations are in place for Leinster to get even better in the coming years.
“No silverware this year isn’t great, but we’ve come a long way – we did well throughout the year,” said Jennings, after Leinster topped the Magners League table at the end of the regular season and came within two wins of retaining their European crown.
“Guys like Chris Keane and Simon Keogh are moving on; (coaching consultant) Alan Gaffney’s moving away from the Leinster set up; (defence coach) Kurt McQuilkin as well; CJ van der Linde’s moving back to South Africa, so there’s a lot of different people coming and going next season although obviously Girvan Dempsey and Malcolm O’Kelly have got all the attention.
“Cheiks has instilled a culture here that wasn’t here before and he deserves a lot of credit.
“If he won’t take the credit – he’ll pass it on to his staff and all that.
“But, like I’ve said the whole time, he works probably harder than anybody else. That’s a good way to show an example and he deserves an awful lot of credit.
“I think Stade are getting a very good coach and a good guy.”