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Spectacular display as Munster qualify for URC final

Leinster 15, Munster 16: WHAT a spectacular 80 minutes of rugby today in the Aviva Stadium and what a performance by Munster. They came into the game minus four regulars and four minutes after half-time they suffered another blow when Ben Healy had to retire after a TMO. Before the turn of the year Munster were staring at a mid-table finish in this BKT URC marathon but Mikey Prendergast was having none of it. He predicted that ‘the green shoots are in sight’ and performances of recent months has proved he was correct.
Over the 80 minutes Munster deserved their victory but they had to rely on a last minute drop goal from Jack Crowley to snatch victory. It was a fascinating game with Leinster leading 10-6 at the break, Ben Healy kicked Munster’s six points and a Jenkins try, created by Rob Henshaw and converted by Harry Byrne, helped their side into a four point advantage.
Four minutes into the second half Tadhg Beirne got over for Munster’s try, converted by Jack Crowley, gave the Reds a 13-10 lead. The lead changed again on 60 minutes when replacement Joe McCarthy forced his way over but crucially, Hugh Byrne missed the conversion.
Munster were finding it difficult to get out of their half as the clock ticked towards 75 minutes but they got a break with a turnover and in typical Ronan O’Gara fashion, Jack Crowley sealed victory.
You have to go back to Saturday, May 24, 2011 for the last time that Munster lifted silverware. They beat Leinster in the final of the Magners League in Thomond Park. It was one of the rare games at that venue that I missed. Myself and my wife landed in Alicante on a week’s holiday but with the other passengers on the Shannon flight, we had to wait for close on an hour to get our luggage as most of the baggage staff were looking at Barcelona defeating Manchester United in the final of the Champions Cup. A voice amongst the waiting passengers gave us an update of happenings in Limerick: “Munster won, Keith Earls scored a try.”
Today’s semi-final provided us with cup rugby at its best and Munster can feel very proud of the manner in which they refused to taste another defeat at the hands of their provincial opponents. To the man, they stood up to the best that Leinster could throw at them. Losing four key players coming into this fixture, Munster had to dig deep but boy, did they give it their all!
Our prediction in yesterday’s preview of the game was correct: Munster to shade it!
Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien, Tommy O’Brien, Robbie Henshaw, Charlie Ngatai, Dave Kearney, Harry Byrne, Luke McGrath (c), Michael Milne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ryan Baird, Jason Jenkins, Max Deegan, Will Connors, Jack Conan
Replacements: John McKee, Cian Healy, Thomas Clarkson, Joe McCarthy, Josh van der Flier, Nick McCarthy, Ciarán Frawley, Liam Turner.
Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Antoine Frisch, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (c), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, Fineen Wycherley, Jack O’Donoghue, Neil Cronin, Rory Scannell, Alex Kendellen.

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