Leave a comment

Q&A with WTViewer: Anne

The latest volunteer to take the Q&A is Anne whom I got to know on the east terrace in Cork along with her husband Brian and son Eoghan but they also have west terrace tickets for Thomond, sometimes on the north side and other times on the south side.  I am enjoying this mini-series of Q&As as I am learning things I did not know before (about Graham Norton in this case) so let me know if you would like to volunteer or nominate someone to take part.


Eoghan, Anne and Brian in the festive spirit

Are you Munster by birth or Munster by the grace of God?

I am Munster by birth, born and bred in Cork.

Tell us a little about yourself and your history as a Munster supporter:

I live in Carrigaline with my husband Brian and our 19 year old son Eoghan. We spend a lot of weekends down near Ahakista West Cork where we have an escape from urban life.  Our claim to fame as a family is that we were the first winners of the Graham Norton hosted quiz in 2013 – with a friend of Eoghan’s completing our team.

My first rugby memories are of watching the 5 nations, as it was then, with my beloved late father.  He loved the sport and that is where my love for rugby came.  In 2009 when Ireland won the Grand Slam my father announced that the last time they won in 1948 he had attended the home matches, we were amazed as in those days travelling wasn’t as easy as nowadays….

When Eoghan was younger travelling to games wasn’t as easy, but we always watched on TV.  Once he was old enough to attend we have been hooked as a family. It is the family-friendly element that makes going to games so attractive.  Over the years we have made so many friends not just through standing on the terraces chatting both pre and post match but also those we have met at the team hotel on match days and at various supporter organized events.  The close bond between the players/management and the fans is brilliant.  Eoghan’s favourite player is CJ, he recognized Eoghan one day in the hotel from a previous match and now every time he sees us he comes over to say hello and shake hands, a gentleman.


Eoghan meets CJ – photo by Brian

Keith Earls’ jersey hangs in pride of place in our home after I was lucky enough to win an MRSC competition.  Before the Leicester European game in 2016 I had the honour of hanging the jerseys in the team dressing room under the watchful eye of kitman Tony Mullins.  Tony was brilliant and very helpful, we had great banter and Eoghan took photos.  After the game we were taken down again and presented with Keith Earls match day jersey.  We got great photos and he signed the shirt which we later had framed.


After the Leicester game with Keith Earls and the kitman Tony Mullins

I also had a close encounter with another Munster gentleman in 2015 at the London Irish pre-season friendly game in Cork when a ball hit me on the head. I was stunned and my glasses went flying.  We were sitting in the stand across from the subs and Ian Keatley was the first person over to check if I was OK.  I was taken down to the medical room to be checked out.  We met Ian afterwards to thank him and ever since when we meet he always comes to say hello and tells me to mind my head.  He even autographed my photo with those words.


Autographed by Ian Keatley

GAYL: I was curious about Graham Norton so I had to get more info.  Anne replied: Graham has a house in Ahakista and spends his summers there.  He is very good to the local community and for the last five years has acted as quiz master at a fundraising quiz in aid of the local community association.  It is a great night, just like being at his show on TV.  He is good fun but so professional as well.  Tickets for the quiz sell out in minutes!.  I am jealous of you meeting Graham!  I love his show.  Not envious of the ball hitting you though – I always worry about damaging my glasses as they are so expensive.  Glad you were ok.  Lovely anecdote about Ian, he seems such a sweetheart.  I met his parents at a game in Glasgow a few years ago and they are lovely people so he is a credit to them.

Do you get to many live rugby games a year / live Munster games?

We try to get to as many as we can.  Last season between Pro12 (as it was) Europe, B&I cup & friendlies we attended 17 games.

What was the best game you’ve been at (or seen on TV) from an atmosphere perspective?

The Glasgow European game the day after Axel’s funeral has to be one for the pure emotional day that it was, so privileged to be there.

Then for pure drama the 41 phases and ROG’s last second drop goal against Northampton takes some beating.

Also in 2008 the Clermont game when we got a late try to secure a bonus point win from the jaws of defeat and deny them anything.  That game also included the little spat between Paulie and Jamie Cudmore, and ROG passed the 1000 European points, so it had it all…

What was the best away trip you have been on for Munster or Ireland (if applicable) and why?

Unfortunately for family reasons we don’t get to as many away trips as we would like. However we got to the Racing92 game in the U arena in January which was an interesting experience, but give me Thomond any day, rain, wind and cold…..

How would you rate Munster’s season so far?

Given the upheaval of management change we have had this season I think so far we are doing really well.  Having the home QF to look forward to in April is great.  We are in a good place going into the business end of the season.

What are your hopes / expectations for this season / next season?

This season I really think we can get to at least the semi-final of Europe, after last year’s disappointment of losing in the semi, if we get there anything is possible. In the Pro14 we are in a good place to get to the semi-finals, with the new format this year getting to the final is not out of our reach. It would also be great to retain the B&I Cup given it seems to be the last season of it.

Next season should be exciting to look forward to with the new management settled and so many of our players committing to Munster we should be in a good place to challenge on all fronts.  There is also the added spice of a world cup to get the players fighting for places in the squad.

Gayl: I think if we win the European quarter-final it will be interesting to see how they select for the South African trip – do they wrap up the front liners in cotton wool until the semi-final or go all out to win both games there to try to secure 2nd place in conference for a home play-off game?  Great to have so many players signed up for next season but also very exciting to have Tadgh Beirne coming to Munster! 

Who do you think is the most important player for Munster to have a strong finish to the season?

If Keats can keep up the great form he is in this season then I think he will be pivotal to our having a strong finish to the season. Obviously overall not losing players to injury will be vital.

Gayl: indeed – bad news this week with the injuries to Chris Cloete and Chris Farrell and there was an anxious moment in the Wales game when Conor was injured. Unfortunately it is part of parcel of the game. .

Who is the unsung hero in the Munster squad in your view?

Billy Holland for me is the unsung hero, he has played more minutes than anyone, is having a fantastic season.  When called upon he has been a great captain when Peter is away.  On top of that he is a really nice guy the times we have met him.

Gayl – and of course he is from Cork!  Seriously though Billy is indeed deserving of that accolade.

Which of the Academy/younger players are you most excited about breaking into the senior team?

We have a lot of young talent coming through, it is great to see the young guys getting games, Liam O’Connor was unfortunate to get the bad injury as he was making a name for himself in the first team and looks a real prospect. Dave and Bill Johnson are great prospects. It was great to see Calvin Nash playing a great game against Glasgow especially considering he is the same age as Eoghan.


Eoghan, Anne and Brian with more of the west terrace faithful waiting for the (delayed) Castres game

How long have you been following the WestTerraceView blog?

We have been following the WTV blog for about 3 years.

Gayl: I remember meeting your husband Brian after the Connacht game in Thomond in 2015 – I did not know who he was at the time but I was delighted when he came over and told me that I have “a lovely way with words” which made my night, especially as Munster had just lost!

What do you enjoy most about it?

It is nice to get a supporter’s view of the game rather than reading the press reports. Also standing on the West Terrace it is nice to read about the game from the same view point.

Gayl – thanks for taking the time to take the Q&A Anne and for your encouragement for my blog.  See you on the terrace soon 🙂


Q&A with WTViewer: Daryl

Daryl, a frequent contributor of fantastic match photography to this blog, recently volunteered to take the Q&A.  Here he gives a fascinating insight into being a pitch-side photographer and he is of course a dedicated Munster supporter.


At the Worcester ground for the pre-season friendly

Are you Munster by birth or Munster by the grace of God?

By birth, I’m from Cork and grew up from the age of 12 in Clare.

Tell us a little about yourself and your history as a Munster supporter:

I’m a latecomer to rugby, I didn’t become a supporter until well into my 20’s.  The first match I attended was Harlequins V Leicester in The Stoop while visiting a friend in London.  A college friend took me to my first Munster match against Connacht in the Sportsground in 2004. I joined the Red Army just in time for the 05/06 Heineken Cup campaign 😃

In 2008/09 I started bringing a small camera with me to matches and taking photos from the terraces.  There was a page on the old supporters club website where you could submit your own match photos.  One evening during half time in Thomond Park I got a nice surprise to see some photos I had submitted included in the match programme.


One of the first photos to be included in an official program and the rest as they say is history!  Photo obviously by Daryl


After that I was hooked and sent in as many photos as I could and the MRSC were kind enough to include a few in match programmes for the following seasons.  In 2011, I upgraded my camera to a DSLR and kept sending in photos.

In 2012, the organiser of the MRSC photographers panel emailed me to know if I wanted to stand-in for one of the MRSC pitch-side photographers who was ill.  I jumped at the chance, changed flights to come home early from a trip in Amsterdam and got to go pitch-side in Thomond Park for the RaboDirect Pro12 match against Cardiff – (photos – https://flic.kr/s/aHsjynV7Kb).

I remember being really nervous and excited, so much so that when the teams were running out from the tunnel, I didn’t realise that the pack of photographers had moved to the side!  I stood in the middle and nearly got run over by Gavin Henson! (but I got the shot!- https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely/6781281994/in/album-72157629083491768/).


Since then I’ve been lucky enough to be on the panel of MRSC matchday photographers and have had the privilege to go pitch-side two or three times a year.  I moved to Swansea in 2015 so now I am able to take pitch-side photos when Munster travel to play any of the four Welsh clubs too.

GAYL: I had visions of you being like a rabbit caught in the headlights about to be stampeded by 30 rugby players!  It explains the look you captured on Gavin’s face!  It is a great silver-lining for me to be able to include your photos from the away Welsh games!   

I looked at the album and there are some great shots there of the pitch entertainers on stilts we used to have at home games, plus familiar faces of former players from that time – Tomas O’Leary, Danny Barnes, Felix Jones, Micko plus a young Zebo scoring.

Do you get to many live rugby games a year?

Aside from the matches that I cover as an MRSC photographer, I try to get back to Ireland for matches as much as possible. I’ve missed a few this season unfortunately and I’ve had to get used to seeing more of TP and IIP on the tele instead.

What was the best game you’ve been at (or seen on TV) from an atmosphere perspective?

There have been so many it’s hard to choose the best one!  The first big one for me was the Sale match in 2006.  Everyone was so worried for the week before and then Paulie and Donners drove Chabal back yards and we all realised that it was game on!  Then that amazing Barry Murphy try, Ian Dowling absolutely dominating Charlie Hodgson on the wing and of course Wally’s try at the death!

The 2 HCup finals in Cardiff were amazing; the All Blacks match in 2008; the 40 odd phases against Northampton in 2011 and ROG’s drop goal, beating Toulouse in Thomond Park in 2014; the Maori match in 2016!  There are so many great ones, but two occasions really stick out for me.

The first occasion was Munster versus Racing Metro in 2013 which was the first European match that I covered as an MRSC pitchside photographer.  When the crowd starting singing The Fields, I could feel the energy swarm and wrap around the pitch.  I finally understood what all the players had been talking about for years, about how the 16th man can lift them on.  The second occasion was the Glasgow match in 2016 after Axel passed away.  That was very sad, but very special as well.

What was the best away trip you have been on for Munster or Ireland / Lions rugby (if applicable) and why?

The 2005/06 Heineken Cup Final. I nearly wet myself when Stringer scored the try and seeing O’Connell St. on the big screen was unreal!  After the match was over, I was standing at the end of the row in shock and a Welsh man stopped as he was walking up the steps to give me a big hug and congratulate me.  Then flying home from Birmingham, the Lord Mayor of Limerick led the singing as the plane lifted off the runway!  It was my first away match outside of Ireland and it’s been a hard one to beat 😃

However, when Munster come to Swansea to play the Ospreys in the Liberty stadium the away dressing room is right next to the press room.  When Munster win, I get a great kick out of hearing the lads singing Stand Up & Fight through the wall of the press room while I pack away my camera gear!

How would you rate Munster’s season so far? 

Very good, especially given Rassie’s departure and the upheaval that could have caused.  I think the Academy and the B&I Cup are doing wonders to strengthen the depth of the squad too.

What are your hopes / expectations for this season / next season? 

I hope we can go all the way in Europe, but I think this year, it’ll be tough with Scarlets and Leinster in such good form too.  Outside of results, I think continuing to build the pipeline of up and coming players is very important for the squad.

Who do you think is the most important player for Munster to have a strong finish to the season?

Hopefully Tyler will make a good recovery from injury, but Keats has been immense in keeping the ship afloat this season at 10.  It would be great if some of the younger guys on the first team like Alex Wootton and Jack O’Donoghue continue to get experience under their belt too.

Who is the unsung hero in the Munster squad in your view? 

Duncan Williams is on my list of unsung heroes.  He gets a lot of slack, but his game has steadily improved from season to season and he has put in good miles this year.  The backroom staff are key too.  So much work is done off the pitch.  As a pitchside photographer, I get a small glimpse into this whenever I cover a match.  The logistics, kit, stadium and PR work is essential and it all happens in the background to keep the Munster Rugby and MRSC machines rolling.

Which of the Academy/younger players are you most excited about breaking into the senior team? 

A good few have broken in already, Conor Oliver, Sam Arnold, Kevin O’Byrne, Sean O’Connor. Gavin Coombes played well against the Ospreys Select last October.  I think Darren O’Shea is great too if he can get more game time.


Ready to capture the action in Cardiff

I had some extra “bonus” questions for Daryl about being a pitch-side photographer.

Is there a jostling for position between yourselves and pro photographers or is there an allocated spot?  Or do you have a lucky side to go to? 

The MRSC photographers do our best not to get in the way of the professional photographers.  They have a job to do and Munster Rugby are kind enough to give the MRSC pitchside slots, so we do our best to get along with everyone 😃  During the run-out everyone follows the instructions of the pitch manager and self-organises into a huddle and then we setup behind the goals that Munster are playing towards during the match.

How many photos do you take and discard versus share?

Every photographer probably has a different answer for this one, it depends on how you shoot and how you review and edit I suppose.  Personally, I rarely use FPS (frames per second) shooting mode, purely because I started out with a small point and shoot and trained myself to try to wait and time the shot.  As a result, I probably wouldn’t take as many shots as a professional photographer, who might use FPS to make sure they get the best shot during a sequence of play.  During an eventful match, I could take 500 or 600 photos and end up with about 100 to 150.

Do you feel the elements more on the pitch than in the terrace? 

Absolutely, the collective body warmth on the terrace is something you don’t have when out pitchside.  The last 20 minutes can get tough if I forget to wear a second pair of socks! :-p

On a wet night I have a rain shield that you wrap the camera in to keep it from getting wet. It’s an expensive bit of plastic but it keeps an even more expensive camera snug on those wet nights.

Do you have a favourite photo that you have taken- can you narrow it down to a few even?  I love your B&W photo of CJ and you have one in the MRSC bar also but which is your favourite and why?

When the MRSC opened the bar a few years ago, they asked all the MRSC photographers to submit their 3 favourite photos to be put up in the bar.  I’m well chuffed to have my photos in there, I sneak in for a quick peak at them whenever I can 😃  I sent in the one of Dougie chasing the ball, one of BJ Botha warming up and one of Donnacha Ryan marshalling a maul against Racing (which is a bit more poignant now!)

Dougie – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely/8400573838/

BJ – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely/7963672506/in/album-72157631483532956/

Donnacha – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely/8399495973/in/album-72157632573783738/

I also like a shot I took of Ronan O’Mahony scoring a try in Musgrave Park in 2013 and a shot of Killer scoring a try against the Ospreys in the Liberty Stadium in 2017.  I’m happy that I managed to capture both of the tries in time, especially Killer’s because that was a monster try!  He beat 5 Ospreys to get the ball down – in what seemed like a nano-second – to win the match with a few minutes to go. 


He’s some man for one man! Great action shot of Killer taking on the Ospreys by Daryl.

How long have you been following the WestTerraceView blog?

Since the start, Gayl has been good enough to use some of my photos for the match reviews.

GAYL: Patrick Hogan was one of the first to retweet my blog and when I saw that he retweeted your photos also so I thought I would ask for permission to use some in the blog.  The worst you could have said was no or that there would be a fee!  I am delighted that you didn’t.  I absolutely love how your photos have captured so many exciting scores and brought my words to life and added so much colour to it over the past 5 years.  Thank you!

What do you enjoy most about it?

It’s great to get the perspective from the terrace on a match and the landscape in general. There are things that you miss on TV like crowd interactions or news that only a Munster supporter would be aware of, like who’s warming up or helping on the sidelines. The blog always includes these details so you don’t miss out if you don’t make it to the match. It’s nice to hear “the social” news too 😃

Thanks Daryl for taking the time to complete the Q&A which is going out a week early due to Storm Emma, the Beast from the East and the cancellation of the Edinburgh game this weekend!  You can find more of Daryl’s photos of landscapes as well as rugby at  facebook.com/darylfeehely/  See also: http://darylfeehely.com/
Leave a comment

Front Row Kicks: Munster 21 – Glasgow 10

The result from Swansea has put a smile on my face as the Ospreys managed a one point win over the Cheetahs to put Munster’s rival for 2nd place and the home play-off game 10 points behind in the table. Their loss in Wales makes the lack of a try bonus point in Cork less of an immediate concern. It did feel like an opportunity lost though given how many Glasgow front liners were away on national duty for the Six Nations (and didn’t they do well in Murrayfield!)

Table after 16 rounds

Table from the Pro14 site after 16 rounds

The final Cork appearance of Simon Zebo before he heads to Paris had us hoping for another opportunity to see his flair with ball in hand. It was nice to see him leading out the team with Billy Holland but the chants of “Ze-bo, Ze-bo” were reserved for his final action, kicking the ball out of play to bring the game to an end.

Kicking was the theme of the night and while there were several kicked out of the full plus another 2 blocked down by Glasgow there seemed to be a few too many box kicks simply giving possession away (non contestable to at least give a chance of winning the ball back). However, the kicks I want to highlight are those by the front row, specifically James Cronin and Rhys Marshall! Not a skill you would traditionally associate with front row players but well executed. One interchange between the two players resulted in the second try for Munster finished by Cronin.

Another notable kick on the night was a penalty kick taken by James Hart. While it went wide it is good to see the goal kicking responsibility being shared and Conor Murray did well to successfully kick a key penalty in the Ireland v Wales game the following day.


James Hart lines up the penalty kick in the first half as Cloete and Cronin look on.

It was a bitingly cold, breezy night as we could see from the flags blowing towards the Dolphin end meaning Munster had the wind advantage in the first half. It was good to see Tommy O’Donnell and JJ Hanrahan involved in the team warm-up as the former is near a return to action.

Glasgow kicked the ball out on the full from the first kick of the game, giving an idea of the windy conditions.

Cloete nearly scored in the 9th minute off a lineout from a penalty kicked to touch outside the 5m line. Instead Glasgow infringed and Tyler kicked the penalty between the posts to make it 3-0.

A kick ahead a few minutes later was chased by Calvin Nash (a late replacement for Andrew Conway). He forced the Glasgow fullback into touch and handbags broke out but no disciplinary action was required. From the lineout Munster mauled well. Scannell was dragged over the line but the referee brought play back for an earlier infringement (side entry.) This time the maul broke down so Munster went though the phases and seemed to be making ground when the referee penalized Cloete for crossing to let Glasgow off the hook. Cloete made up for it by winning the next penalty – the one Hart attempted.

In the 24th minute a powerful maul off another lineout drove for the line. The TMO was asked to review to confirm no double movement by Niall Scannell as he placed the ball. The TMO agreed that the try could be awarded and Tyler converted to make it 10-0.





Full credit to Alex Wootton for his superb tackle on #7 Matt Smith to prevent a certain try. I am sure the Warriors winger (#11 Ratu Tagive) following up is annoyed at himself for not managing to ground the ball! Cloete won another penalty when the Glasgow player did not release (he gets into such a great position over the ball) which Tyler kicked to make it 13-0 at the break.

However Glasgow were quick out of the blocks in the second half. Sam Johnson supported by George Horne broke through the defence to take play into the Munster 22. A penalty conceded by Archer was put between the posts by Hastings to get Glasgow on the scoreboard.

Niall Scannell was injured in the early exchanges of the half and was replaced by Rhys Marshall. Niall has had a very stop-start season with injuries and hopefully this new setback is not too serious.

A superb choke tackle by James Cronin and Chris Cloete won another penalty for Munster in the 44th minute. However from a lineout in the 46th minute Lee Jones broke through and with George Horne running a great support line the scrum half took the pass and scored. Hastings added the extras to make it 13-10.

It was concerning to see Cloete stay down after a tackle in the build-up to that score as he had been playing a stormer. It looked like a serious arm injury, the extent of which will be known after a scan. Hopefully it is not going to finish his season as he has added a new dimension to the backrow options for Munster which is key to the playoff ambitions. Tommy and Conor will be ready to step up as needed so great to have them both fully fit again. Update 25th: Chris tweeted a gruesome pic of his arm saying surgery is finished. Best wishes for recovery.

Shortly after, as the referee advised the ball was out, Rhys Marshall put pressure on the scrum half, getting his boot to the ball to nudge it clear. James Cronin gave chase, hacking on the ball and barging over the line with Lee Jones. The latter failed to touch down the ball so Cronin had a simple finish. The conversion was wide so the score remained 18-10.


Robbie Ambrose captures Cronin’s unorthodox try but they all count!

Calvin Nash nearly scored from a chip ahead by Hart but the ball grazed the sideline as it bounced and his foot was also just in touch so no try was awarded but he deserves credit for his athletic finish captured in this photo.

Another penalty just after the hour mark was put between the posts to put more than a score between the teams. Rhys held the ball steady for Tyler.

Just minutes later Rhys was to the fore again, this time gathering an overthrown lineout in the Munster 22 which he kicked downfield. Jack and Rhys gave chase and it bounced back towards Rhys who showed great footballing skills to hack it downfield again. Dan Goggin got back to pin Glasgow in their own half but disappointingly there were no more scores and no whiff of a bonus point for either team in the final quarter hour.

Rhys_LO capture -Robbie

Robbie Ambrose captures the moment as Rhys gathers the lineout

Munster: Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash (Darren Sweetnam 78), Sam Arnold, Dan Goggin, Alex Wootton; Tyler Bleyendaal (Ian Keatley 67), James Hart (Duncan Williams 78); James Cronin (Dave Kilcoyne 67), Niall Scannell (Rhys Marshall 43), Stephen Archer (Brian Scott 74); Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, Chris Cloete (Jack O’Donoghue 48), Robin Copeland (Gerbrandt Grobler 74).

Glasgow Warriors: Ruairidh Jackson; Lee Jones, Sam Johnson, Brandon Thomson, Ratu Tagive (Nicko Matawalu 74).; Adam Hastings (Richie Vernon 68), George Horne (Henry Pyrgos 59); Ollie Kebble (Alex Allan 62), James Malcolm (Grant Stewart half-time), Siu Halanukonuka (Zander Fagerson 56); Kiran McDonald (Lewis Wynne 74), Scott Cummings; Rob Harley, Matt Smith (Chris Fusaro 59), Matt Fagerson.

Robin Copeland was awarded Man of the match and it was funny watching him “lovin’ the camera” when it was on him as Tommy and JJ enjoyed his preening.

Match reports from The42.ie, the Irish Times and Irish Independent

Stats from ESPN are here and show that Munster had 36 kicks from hand and lived on 30% possession and 28% territory in the second half (40% & 49% respectively over the 80 minutes) and we can attest to that as all the action seemed to be in the far half – over on the west side and down in the Dolphin half whereas we were in the east at the Sunday’s Well end. Given the low possession there were some big tackle numbers put in by the midfield pair and the pack.  Stephen Archer may  not have gotten in on the kicking trend but he tackled all about him and made some good carries as did Killer on his introduction.


It was great to find a spot between Tony / Imelda and Joan / Kevin near the 22 in our mini west terrace reunion. I enjoyed the treat of hearing Tony’s classic comments in person as opposed to other people quoting him. He filled me in on his experiences in the East Stand where he was consulted after a recent game by the great Dougie for his opinion :-).

It didn’t seem too cold initially but as the night wore on we felt it seeping into our fingers and toes. At least we were partially sheltered by the roof behind us from the breeze. Hopefully the games next weekend will be ok given the weather forecast for snow during the week. I was delighted that the Scarlets game was (finally) fixed for Saturday 24th as I had been expecting a Friday night fixture to give them a longer recovery for their European quarter final the following Friday. That game could have a crucial impact on the final playoff places in both conferences. If the game goes ahead in Edinburgh next Friday, and weather permitting in Dublin, I hope to get into the River Bar to watch it with MRSC Dublin.

Finishing up for the special night that was in it with this lovely shot of Zebo and his team mates. He did not get to show us on the night why this blog was nearly called “The Greatest Showman” (the theme tune of which was in my head for the drive to Cork and Zebo certainly marches to the beat of his own drum). We will miss his unpredictability, audacious skills and huge smile but hopefully we will have plenty more of those to enjoy before the end of this season. Let’s get a few more additions to his try-scoring record to raise the bar for the younger lads coming through! Allez le Zebo!


Below Par: Cardiff Blues: 25 – Munster 18

A sub-par performance would be good in golf but not in rugby!  Maybe it was down to ten changes resulting in new combinations; maybe the new defence systems are still bedding in; maybe it was just a bad day at the office for a few players too many…   Whatever the reason, the review won’t make for pleasant viewing.  At least Cardiff also beat the Cheetahs in the previous round while the latter’s loss to Glasgow at the weekend ensured Munster remain in 2nd place for now.

Congrats to Glasgow as the first team to qualify for the top 6 across both Conferences. They should have a bye into the semi-finals as with just 5 rounds remaining they would need to have a melt-down to be overtaken at the top of Conference A.  The Cheetahs on paper have an easier run-in including the visit of Munster in April and could well move up to 2nd place giving Munster a more difficult away play-off game against the 2nd place finisher in Conference B hence the 3 / 4 points lost this weekend could be costly.


Captain Jack O’Donoghue claims the lineout – photo by Daryl Feehely

The scoring timeline taken from the Pro14 site shows how much of a head start was given to Cardiff – the first off a set piece (lineout), another from a block-down and the third from another set-piece, this time off a scrum all within a 9 minute period.   Munster managed to score in the 33rd minute from a maul finished off well by Chris Cloete and enjoyed a purple patch after the break.  Cardiff conceded penalty after penalty to keep them out and it resulted in Matthew Rees being yellow carded.  Cardiff opted to sacrifice a winger to bring on a replacement hooker and after Munster went through phase after phase to suck in the defence it resulted in creating space out wide and Stephen Fitzgerald was the beneficiary.  “Game on “we thought, but that was as close as it got.

ScoringTimelineThe first try started from a lineout in the 17th minute – a line break by the hooker Matthew Rees put Cardiff on the front foot.  Ronan O’Mahony made the tackle to bring him down and seemed to hurt himself in the process.  The Blues kept possession and while there was more than a suspicion of a knock-on in the following phases the referee was satisfied that the ball went backwards.  Several phases later a pass to Macaulay Cook put him in space to score.  It was not converted.

Five minutes later a long kick was not dealt with swiftly.  While Munster got back to secure possession there was no pillar defence in place when Duncan Williams put in the box kick which  was blocked down by his opposite number Lloyd Williams.  The latter reacted quickly to chase the ball and score.  Jarrod Evans converted and Munster were 12-0 down but worse was to come.

The restart went out on the full giving the Blues a scrum on halfway.  From there the ball went quickly to the wing.  A kick ahead by Lee-Lo was chased and secured by Lane who fended off Keatley to score in the corner.  Another successful conversion made in 19-0 and gave Munster a mountain to climb.

The hosts could have had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time but Stephen Fitzgerald nailed the crucial tackle and the danger was cleared.  An offside gave a penalty to put Munster on the scoreboard before half time.  It was kicked to touch.  GG secured the lineout and the maul formed.  When brought down Chris Cloete released the ball and got to his feet before powering forward to get over the line and score.

From the restart Munster played with more intent, imposing themselves on the game and pinning Cardiff back in their own 22 for much of the third quarter.  If they could have sustained that for the full forty minutes this could have been a very different write up.


Robin Copeland tries to barge through – photo by Daryl Feehely

Pressure chasing up the restart by Rory, Darren O’Shea and Rhys won a scrum on the Cardiff 22m.  From there Rory, Robin and Chris carried with purpose and got Munster to the 5m line.  Arnold was next to carry well, then Kilcoyne, Ryan, GG, Marshall, Keatley, through phase after phase.  Cardiff conceded a penalty for a high tackle and Keatley put it between the posts to make it 19-8 after 43 minutes.  A few minutes later Darren O’Shea claimed the lineout and the maul made some ground before the ball went wide to Fitzgerald.  Copeland carried well then Grobler and Kilcoyne.  Another penalty was conceded by the hosts which Keatley kicked to touch.  Another lineout, this time taken at the back by Copeland and another maul formed.  The breakaway by Kilcoyne, Marshall and Williams crossed the line but could not ground the ball as a Cardiff player got underneath it.  From the 5m scrum Munster went again and kept pummeling the Cardiff defence.  Another penalty, the time for offside resulted in a yellow card for Matthew Rees.  Munster took the scrum forcing Cardiff to bring on a replacement hooker.  The pack took it on.  Daren O’Shea came close before they went to the backs.  Rory Scannell could have gone for the line himself but put Stephen Fitzgerald through to score.


Daryl captures Stephen Fitzgerald’s try

Cardiff saw out the rest of the sinbinning period without further concessions.  Replacements came onto both sides and whenever Munster seemed to be making progress they were penalized.  Jean Kleyn was penalized for not releasing, James Cronin for off his feet which seemed harsh as it was a Blues player who had turned him so he went off his feet.  That led to a penalty kicked by Evans to put 10 points between the team and a losing bonus point out of reach.  Hence we were surprised when a penalty awarded on 77 minutes was kicked to touch.  Munster lost the lineout to compound the issue and we wondered if that was the last chance as the clock ticked down.  Cardiff had kicked into touch but when Grobler claimed the lineout it was Cardiff who were awarded the scrum put in when Munster failed to use the ball from the subsequent melee.  Somehow Hart came away with the ball and passed to Dave O’Callaghan in support who took play almost up to the 5m line.  Another penalty conceded by the Blues as the clock reached 80 minutes gave Tyler Bleyendaal a final opportunity to take the three points on offer and the more important losing bonus point by making it 25-18.


Dave O’Callaghan contests the lineout. Photo by Daryl Feehely

Match report from The42.ie,   the Irish Independent and post match comments from Johann van Graan here

Stats from ESPN show that the 10-1 advantage Munster enjoyed in the penalty stakes was over-turned in the final quarter when they were pinged time and again to end up 12-6

CARDIFF BLUES: R Williams; Summerhill (Myhill 53-63), Smith, Lee-Lo, Lane; Evans, L Williams (T Williams 66); G Jenkins (capt) (Gill 61), Rees (Myhill 63), Filise (Lewis 55), Earle (Turnbull 61), Davies, Cook (Robinson 74), E Jenkins, N Williams.  Replacements not used: Shingler, Edwards.

MUNSTER: Stephen Fitzgerald; Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Rory Scannell, Ronan O’Mahony (Zebo 56); Ian Keatley (Tyler Bleyendaal 61), Duncan Williams (James Hart 70); Dave Kilcoyne (James Cronin 54), Rhys Marshall (Mike Sherry 62), John Ryan (Stephen Archer 54), Gerbrandt Grobler,  Darren O’Shea (Jean Kleyn 54), Jack O’Donoghue (capt), Chris Cloete, Robin Copeland (Dave O’Callaghan 70).

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

As you can imagine the mood in the River Bar with the Munster supporters was partly disbelief at the basic errors and defensive frailties shown.  The referee also came in for criticism particularly for the first Cardiff try with the suspected knock-on and forward pass and the late flurry of penalties which killed off any hope in the final ten minutes.

Positives included seeing more players returning from injury including Tyler while others got game time.  The individual errors are fixable and hopefully the defensive system failings are also.  I got some positive comments about yet another TV appearance at the Zebre game last week 🙂  Fame at last – it would be fun to be a fly on the wall when that happens but bi-location is not possible yet..

I’ll be heading to the game in Cork on Friday.  Glasgow will be missing a lot of players due to the resumption of the Six Nations but Munster can’t afford another slip-up.  It is important to get back into the winning habit before the trip to Edinburgh who are in fine form at the moment and just edged ahead of Ulster into the coveted Top 3 in Conference B.  Hope to see some of you there.

Daryl Feehely’s photos of the game and supporters are here – it will be interesting to share Daryl’s answers in the next Q&A feature due March 9th when there is no game to report on.

Duncan_tries to blockdown_Daryl

Duncan Williams tries to block down the kick. Photo by Daryl Feehely


Not black and white: Munster: 33 – Zebre: 5

The loudest, warmest cheer of the Baltic evening was reserved for the arrival of GG, to let him and all watching know that he is not an outcast amongst us but a reformed young man who made a mistake, paid the price and is trying to get on with his short rugby career.  It is not a show of support for taking performance enhancing drugs.  The joint statement from Munster and Ireland rugby was clear on that point.  There was no call for the recent tabloid-esque headline “Munster by the grace of steroids

Hopefully we will remember GG fondly for his contribution to Munster and he will absorb our traditions and values and appreciate our acceptance.  It must have been tough and a shock to become the scape-goat and bullying victim of certain media outlets in recent times.  His past was brought up again in the media coverage this weekend when he was named in the team and reiterated again in the match reports.  It will follow him for the rest of his career.  There may be benefits of the coverage in deterring others from being tempted to go down that path but it became a witch hunt and that is what we do not accept.  Call us one-eyed if you will (again).


Ready for action

The game itself took a while to get going.  The conditions were difficult.  We were sheltered from the worst of the wind and showers by the West Stand behind us but I had walked up to the stadium from the city side and I had to fight the wind in my face every step of the way!  At times the flags blew one way, then the other.  The rain held off for most of the game thankfully but the temperature dropped significantly as the evening went on and by the end we were frozen and glad to hear the final whistle.  Therefore some knock-ons from cold hands and over-cooked kicks out on the full or over the dead-ball line were to be expected.  Penalties were conceded in promising positions and passes did not always go to hand.  Of course we were not impressed by the officials not picking up a blatantly obvious crooked throw into the lineout by Zebre so I smiled as I watched the game back and heard the TG4 commentators share our disbelief.

Robin Copeland was prominent in the loose, winning turnovers and showing great physicality and pace off the back of the scrum.


Daryl captures man of the match Robin Copeland in action

The opening quarter came and went without a score but not a lack of effort. Can’t you feel the intensity in this great photo by Daryl?  I am sure we were yelling “heave!” at the same time


Daryl captures the intensity of an early maul featuring Jean Kleyn Photo by Daryl Feehely

An offside advantage gave Munster a penalty in the 24th minute which JJ Hanrahan kicked to touch halfway inside the Zebre 22.  After some good work by the forwards Duncan Williams on his 150th appearance for the province whipped the ball out to JJ who shipped it onto Conor Oliver.  The flanker showed lovely handling as he pivoted to slip the pass to Sammy Arnold who accelerated to take a great line to score in the corner and the deadlock was broken.  Duncan stretched out to hold the ball steady for JJ but the conversion kick went wide.  While Robin was named MOTM I thought Conor had a superb game as did Sammy and I expect both were in contention for the award.

As half-time approached we were hoping for a spark to lead to a second score before the break and we were not disappointed.  An overthrown Zebre lineout on halfway was gobbled up by Conor Oliver and from there quick hands set up an attack through the backline who took play into the Zebre 22.  A subsequent penalty against the visitors enabled Munster to kick for touch.  The maul was set up and it was Brian Scott who twisted and grounded the ball over the line, dragged infield by Robin Copeland when it looked like the Italians would force Munster over the sideline.  When the conversion went between the posts there were happy faces applauding the efforts of the team when the cameras swung by the west terrace.

Zebre almost got in for a score before the break but a forward pass meant it remained 12-0.  However they were first to score in the second half after a grubber kick ricocheted off a Zebre leg to put Munster under pressure, conceding a penalty.  From a excellent position the visitors went through thirteen phases before a kick ahead rebounded over the Munster line off Zebo’s knee giving the visitors another attacking scrum.  The lively scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani charged from the base of the scrum to score.  The conversion went wide but at 12-5 with the game in the balance Munster were re-energized and quickly brought play to the opposite end of the field.

Conor Oliver may well have scored the third Munster try if the referee had gone to the TMO but play continued and seconds later Robin Copeland made no mistake in being seen to ground the ball.  Ian Keatley converted successfully with support from Duncan Williams to make it 19-5.


Duncan Williams holds the ball steady for the conversion

Talk about impact subs!  Fresh from their involvement with the Irish team at Carton House we saw good interplay between Ian Keatley and Rory Scannell result in the latter scoring the bonus point try in the 58th minute to make it 26-5.

With the 5 points secured the bench were unleashed, Kevin O’Byrne and Dave O’Callaghan coming on alongside the aforementioned GG and scrum-half John Poland who were both making their senior debuts.  Poland had been playing in the U20s Six Nations in 2016 so I was interested to see his impact at this level.  I thought he did well.


John Poland ready to move the ball from the scrum

Robin Copeland won another turnover when Zebre were on the attack and enabled Munster to clear the danger out of their half.  Jeremy Loughman made his senior debut replacing James Cronin after 69 minutes.  I see he was born in Reno, Nevada, a place I have visited for work on several occasions and it could be a useful piece of information for some future quiz night.


The packs fight for possession as the backs and Conor look on

A penalty in the 72nd minute set up the final score of the night.  From the lineout Dave O’Callaghan secured possession.  Keatley passed to Loughman who carried strongly in midfield, bringing play over the gainline.  Poland got the pass to O’Byrne who offloaded to Rory as he was tackled.  Scannell juggled the ball before passing as he was tackled in turn to his midfield partner running a great support line.  Sammy had a clear run in from there to score the final try of the night.  Keatley maintained his 100% conversion success rate to bring the score to 33-5.

Cardiff beat the Cheetahs to give us some breathing space in second place in Conference A and it will be interesting to see how we fare there next weekend.  Glasgow only managed a draw in Dragons so hopefully we can take advantage of their depleted resources during the international window when they come to Cork in 2 weeks.  It is great to have strength in depth during this period with Dan and Dave returning from long term injuries to add to the selection options.  It was also encouraging to see Tyler taking part in the warm up also as he continues his rehab.


Warming down after participating in the warm-up – Tyler in his baseball cap alongside Chris

Match stats from ESPN are here

Match report from The42.ie,  Irish Times, and Independent.  The Irish Examiner report includes the post match thoughts of Johann van Graan.

More of Daryl’s photos are here while some more of mine are on the blog Facebook page.

MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Darren Sweetnam, Sam Arnold, Dan Goggin (Rory Scannell 52), Alex Wootton; JJ Hanrahan (Ian Keatley 52), Duncan Williams (John Poland 59); James Cronin (Jeremy Loughman 69), Niall Scannell (Kevin O’Byrne 59), Brian Scott (John Ryan 54); Jean Kleyn (Gerbrandt Grobler 59), Billy Holland (capt); Jack O’Donoghue (Dave O’Callaghan 59), Conor Oliver, Robin Copeland.

ZEBRE: Ciaran Gaffney; Gabriele di Giulio, Giulio Bisegni, Faialaga Afamasaga, Giovanbattista Venditti (Rory Parata 61); Serafin Bordoli (Maicol Azzolini 75), Guglielmo Palazzani (Riccardo Raffaele 57); Cruze Ah-Nau (Andrea de Marchi 61), Tommaso d’Apice (Luhandre Luus 57), Eduardo Bello (Roberto Tenga 57); David Sisi, George Biagi (capt) (Leonard Krumow 61); Renato Giammarioli, Johan Meyer, Jimmy Tuivati (Derick Minnie 57).

On the weekend that Joy Neville made Pro14 history as she refereed Ulster versus the Southern Kings in Belfast it was good to see two young female referees taking charge of the half-time minis.


The MAR referee wasn’t much taller than the minis playing but the example of Joy Neville will inspire others to take up refereeing.

Afterwards I popped up to the MRSC bar to thaw out.  It was great to catch up with Geraldine and Kevin and hear about the recent Q&A which they had attended with Jerry, Aled and Rhys and to compare holiday plans.  They surprised themselves with how much they could remember about the Q&A.  It would be great to have something like that in Dublin at some stage as it is too far to travel for an hour!  Dave Kearney (not that one!) was having his beard shaved for charity and it was strange to see him bare-faced!  I am sure he missed the facial insulation on his way home!  I also met Carmel down from Wicklow, Tony had the second necklace for me and I enjoyed a chat with Aine and the Graces before heading home.  Before the game I had met Eamon there and was able to speak knowledgably with him about Tipp football and their loss to the Rossies (since my sister and her Roscommon-born husband (and their three teenagers) had attended it the previous Sunday).   On my way down I managed to bang the side of my knuckle against something and was surprised to see it would not stop bleeding.  Thanks to the paramedics for putting a plaster on it for me.

We were missing a few of the regulars and could have done with their presence to keep us warmer.  I read in one of the match reports that while official attendance was swelled by season ticket sales they estimated only five thousand were in attendance.  I was impressed that Mark had managed to get down from the Aviva after the Ireland game to Thomond for this one!  It was good to see Eilish back with her husband  (in his Leinster jersey again but over the bad flu that had hit him when he came to support them on Stephens Day) while steward Darren got asked about his recent TV appearance on Winning Streak – not successful enough to give up his role at TP!  Thanks to Pascal for a photo of the usual suspects in situ from the Castres game, a nice souvenir.  Back to the River Bar next Saturday with the Dublin crew to support Munster v Cardiff.  May see some of you there or in Cork the following weekend.  Thanks for likes, comments and shares.


Q&A with WTViewer: Babs


Who wears it well? Babs v Killer: the dress-off

A lady who needs no introduction after being name-checked by Ugo and Donncha as she was caught on camera praying for a successful penalty kick during the game at Welford Road in December, here we get to read Babs in her own words describe her love affair with Munster Rugby.

Are you Munster by birth or Munster by the grace of God?

Definitely by the grace of God!   My mother is Irish but by area of birth would be Ulster and by inclination, Leinster as she adored BO’D.

Tell us a little about yourself and your history as a Munster supporter:

I’d been to Thomond Park a few times with Quins over the years but it was only when Paul Burke returned to Munster that I went to watch THEM play.  Paul and his family were always very good to me so I used to pop along the M4 to see him when Munster played in Wales.

Was I seduced? adopted?   BOTH!   Pat Geraghty and John O’Sullivan adopted me and I suppose Paulie, Donners, Strings, Quinny et al seduced me.  I defy anyone to watch Munster play and not be captivated. The ‘seduction’, if you will, has continued and I adore as many of the current squad as I do ‘the old guard’.

Do you get to many live rugby games a year?

I keep saying I’m going to cut back on my Munster fixes and not renew my season ticket but the boys really do help me keep sane.  My mother is now 96 and suffers with dementia.  I visit her in her nursing home 2/3 times a week and it can be very distressing.  Rugby is my escape from that.  I probably still do about 10 or so games now – B&I cup, Pro 14, Heineken…they’re all the same to me.  HC home games were way beyond my reach as an associate member so I did 2 years where I didn’t miss a home or away Magners League game …including Ulster for a rearranged game on a Tuesday I think.  That’s how I got to know all the players, management and the lovely Munster Branch presidents.  The latter all seem to live in fear of me making them dance with me. I can’t imagine why!!  I’m going to South Africa to celebrate CJ’s and my birthdays.  He’s only a day younger than me, you know. He’s just a lot fitter.

Gayl:  I can see that in this photo of you both with John  🙂

What was the best game you’ve been at (or seen on TV) from an atmosphere perspective?

Cardiff final 2006.  Unbelievable.  I was a newbie, ‘blow-in’ back then but it was amazing.  I nearly burst with excitement and then John O’Sullivan found me in the crowd, wearing my Munster jersey and Quins chef trews, and took me into the post match party. “Keep quiet and we’ll say you’re my mammy!”  I thought 2008 would be an anti-climax.  Had a great time partying the night before with friends and was quite calm until I got into the stadium, where I promptly burst into tears.  I love Cardiff.

I hadn’t planned to go over for ‘The Glasgow Game’ but was in bits back home after I heard about Axel, so spent a fortune on a flight and went over.  I’m so glad I did.  Just to be around people who understood helped enormously.  Barry Coughlan from The Examiner had kept in touch all that week and was a great comfort.  Pat G had introduced us years before and we were firm friends.  The staff at The Clarion, who treat me like a favourite mad aunt, were lovely too.  Hugs all round.  We all know how special that game was.  Such a tribute to our fallen friend and hero.

What was the best away trip you have been on for Munster or Ireland rugby and why?

I’ve had so many great experiences with Munster.  Brilliant nights in Wales before games. The legendary “Away to The Borders” trip….Such a shame that team folded….but the stand out trip for me had no rugby.  We didn’t even get to see the 2006 final, the reason for the 2016 trip to Spain. THEY HAD ONE JOB TO DO!!!  It had been Axel’s idea to get as many of the boys from the 2006 final’s squad together for a few days.  There was some golf, some drinking, a lot of reminiscing, a few songs and Axel himself was so relaxed (after one hell of a season).  Just watching the lads catching up with each other and enjoying the craic was a privilege to be part of.  Jerry Flannery, in particular, made sure everyone was included and of course Quinnie, Donncha and Paulie were their inimitable selves.  Jerry, Strings and Wally didn’t play golf and just stayed by the pool, looking for all the world like male models on a photo shoot!!  BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

How would you rate Munster’s season so far?

I’m happy. Despite having some long term injuries and Donnacha Ryan’s and Francis Saili’s departures, we’re hanging in there in the Pro14, have a home 1/4 final in the HC and stand a good chance of retaining the B&I cup.  Alex Wootton is growing in experience and stature every week.  (I love having someone else with an English accent around)  Rhys Marshall has been a great import (up there with Rua Tipoki IMHO).

Jean Kleyn is the “big hairy arsed, baby eating” lock that every team would kill for, and Chris Cloete is a freak of nature. I LOVE HIM!   He pisses off every single member of opposition teams.  What a find!  Simon Zebo continues to excite and Keith Earls (former baby lion) is playing out of his skin.   My beloved Keats and Duncan are finally getting the recognition they deserve so I’m a pretty happy bunny.

Thanks for clarifying via Twitter Babs that As long as I can remember supporters had a “hairy-arsed, baby eating lock” on their wish list. We had some good ones but I never actually “examined their credentials” 

What are your hopes / expectation for this season / next season?

I’d love us to win the HC again this year.  Especially for Simon Zebo, Billy Holland, Jerry, Felix, Rassie etc.  I won’t make either of our 1/4 finals for personal reasons but will make sure candles are lit, prayers are offered and Holy Water is sprinkled and look forward to 2 semi-finals.  We should still be up there for the knock-out Pro14 games and I want us to retain the B&I cup, especially as it’s finishing.  Surely we get to keep the trophy then!

Who do you think is the most important player for Munster to have a strong finish to the season?

To me it’s never down to one player….win or lose.  I guess a lot of people would go for Conor, and he is very special.  If pushed for an answer I’d probably say, Keats. With Tyler injured and JJ not having started games I’d feel most confident with Ian at the helm.  I sometimes wish we didn’t lose any players to Ireland.  Why does it always feel worse if they get injured playing for the national side?  Please send them back fit and well, Joe.

Who is the unsung hero in the Munster squad in your view?

All the backroom staff to be honest.  From Niall, having to deal with all the logistics, to the kitman, to the medical staff, to the S&C guys (I’m so going to miss Aled) to the nutritionist and George Murray, the analyst. He’s been doing that job for decades and still looks only 24!  They get no recognition from any of us supporters but the lads would be lost without them

Which of the younger players are you most excited about breaking into the senior team?

Dan Goggin is a good prospect as are the Johnston brothers. I guess Sammy Arnold has already arrived!  I love watching the B&I cup games as these lads are the future.  Poland doesn’t look old enough to be out without a permission slip but is a fine player.

How long have you been following the WestTerraceView blog?

About 2/3 years I guess.  It means more to me since I met Gayl and had the pleasure of staying with her last year.  I’m not sure she’s recovered from breakfasting with me yet!! How she manages to support (shout loudly), watch and remember enough to write a blog is beyond me.  She has very sound knowledge too.  If I ever took to blogging it would be more haircuts, rolled down socks, who needs a new razor and best calves and thighs!!

Gayl: it was an experience Babs, you had so many stories to tell so just as well we were not in a rush!  There will be a Failte here for you anytime.  Your blog would probably get more hits than mine with that proposed content 🙂

What do you enjoy most about it?

The personal stuff.  If I haven’t managed to see the game live or even on the box (problem of living in the UK) it goes a long way to helping me feel as if I were there.


Babs in her Munster dress, since “donated” to David Kilcoyne at Thomond Park

Thanks for taking the time to contribute to this new “feature” Babs.

There are 2 weekends with no Munster rugby game in March so hopefully this will inspire a few folks to volunteer to give it a go (email me at WTView@live.ie or contact me via the comments below, Facebook or Twitter).  Feel free to skip some questions if you wish or suggest additional / replacement questions, it’s just a bit of fun 🙂





Q&A with WTViewer: Luke

Are you Munster by birth or Munster by the grace of God?

I am Munster by Birth, I am a  proud Cork Norrie (northsider) originally from the Old Youghal Road.  

Flying the flag proudly in Oman

Tell us a little about yourself and your history as a Munster supporter:
So I am a 37 yr old  father of 2  who has spent most of my life living outside of Ireland.  I spent most of my childhood in Holland, in my late teens and twenties I travelled with work throughout Europe and for the  last 5 years I have been working in what we call the Sand pit (better known as the Middle East) Bahrain for 2 years, Qatar for 1 and now the amazingly beautiful Oman. This has obviously hindered my direct involvement as a Munster supporter however I had enough exposure in my little time at home during my late teens to “catch the bug” so to speak. I played youths rugby for Old Christians in Rathcooney, Cork (on the same team as ex Munster no.8 James Coughlan) and grew my love for the game there and in turn my love for Munster and Irish rugby in general.  I remember  when I was playing rugby in Ireland I regularly visited a very different Lansdowne road for internationals and Musgrave park for local rugby matches. I suppose I started supporting Munster religiously in the early 2000’s during Kidney’s reign like most others my age … the rest is history.
In case you missed it you might be interested in this interview with James Coughlan last weekend about his coaching in Pau.
Me and my son Tommy

Luke and his son Tommy enjoying the sunshine in Oman

Do you get to many live rugby games a year / live Munster games?

We make sure to get to a game everytime we are home, as this usually falls around x mas time the St Stephens day match is a must and I usually purchase the match tickets before the plane tickets home ::-)

I play for Muscat here in what would be the 2nd division of the middle east rugby set up so I regularly travel to Kuwait , Bahrain , Qatar and Dubai for matches with the highlight of the season being the Dubai 7’s in early December where in particular this year I had the pleasure to share a few pints with former Munster centre James Downey.  Despite living in the Middle East rugby is a stable diet for our family.

Luke and James Downey dubai 7's 2017

Meeting James Downey at the Dubai 7s in 2017

What was the best game you’ve been at (or seen on TV) from an atmosphere perspective?

 I always remember the Munster V Clermont game in Thomond Park when Paulie and Jamie Cudmore had a scuffle, the noise during that was ferocious and it got the adrenaline going and the rest of that game was intense to say the least.
Second to that would be the heineken cup annihilation of Ospreys in 2009. For the first time I stood down on the terraces near the try line , I was able to see two of the best wingers of their time Bowe & Williams ….gladly get shown a lesson by a superb Munster backline. The atmosphere was brilliant as everyone was just loving it.
One of the more poignant ones was when a friend of ours passed due to cancer,  we used to watch and travel to matches together. On the day of his removal Munster were playing Montabaun away in France, we all gathered at his house and as he was laid out (with a Munster jersey on) we watched the match together for the last time …can’t remember the score but was happy to watch one more game with him before we said our goodbyes.
What was the best away trip you have been on for Munster or Ireland / Lions rugby (if applicable) and why?
 I have believe it or not never seen Ireland play outside of Ireland , I have been lucky to have seen the lions play the barbarians in Hong Kong but the best away trip I ever had was a Heineken Cup Final without Munster in 2010 , I had bought tickets for the final in Paris as I was so confident we would beat Biarritz in the semi but alas we didn’t, me and a buddy decided to heck and we would go to Paris anyway , to our amazement there were obviously alot of other optimistic Munster fans who had bought tickets and we spent 2 or 3 days (can’t remember) with hundreds of other Munster fans in Paris. Other away days fondly remembered are trips to Ospreys in Wales one in particular which was the first time my father joined us was during a very, very snowy winter where we were nearly snowed in , luckily we battled the weather conditions and were able to get the ferry home.

How would you rate Munster’s season so far?
Hit and Miss.  The disruption in the management can’t help and must be frustrating for the players. We have seen glimpses of what we can achieve but on the flip side have shown how we can collapse and be left very vulnerable (Leinster first half St Stephens day game and the second half with Ulster in Ravenhill).
What are your hopes / expectation for this season / next season?
For this season I would be happy with a semi final in the Pro14 and maybe a quarter in the Heineken cup at a push a Semi final there aswell. For next year I just want to see a season with no turmoils, scandal, management changes etc. etc. Let’s concentrate on the rugby and build a decent squad and achieve a consistent season.  I would also like to see Thomond Park becoming a place where teams fear to travel to again, a fortress, a place of no hope for others.
Who do you think is the most important player for Munster to have a strong finish to the season?
I think if we can keep Conor Murray fit and fighting right to the end of the season then we will be doing very well, he contributes a serious amount of tries and I think if world class players are on form it rubs off on all the others, they will take confidence from him and his performances. He seems to ooze confidence at the moment and never seems fazed on the pitch , a successful 6 nations with Ireland will only aid us on his return.
Who is the unsung hero in the Munster squad in your view?
Billy Holland for me, and believe this or not but I was one who a few years ago was thinking it was time for him to move on, how wrong was I.  He has been awesome and deserves more than the 1 cap for Ireland (not sure if that’s correct) , he is Mr Dependable and like James Coughlan in many ways as one of the most consistent unrated performers in Irish rugby.
Which of the Academy players are you most excited about breaking into the senior team?
Calvin Nash has alot to offer but I think we will see more of Bill & David Johnston especially during the 6 nations. Both exciting prospects.
How long have you been following the WestTerraceView blog?
Good question but I think it must be 5 years
 Very close – you were the first WordPress account to subscribe to the blog on Feb 11, 2013 so it is coming up on 5 years!  Thanks for all the views since then 🙂
What do you enjoy most about it?
I have finally mastered the dark arts of internet streaming so usually get to watch most matches uninterrupted.  however with the 4 hour time difference the 19:45 kick offs at home are on at 23:45 here , and with the weekends being Friday and Saturday sometimes they fall on a school night so its just possible to stay up.  Worse again the early Sunday games are on during work hours here, its those matches in particular that I look forward to reading the blog. I usually read the blog first then watch the highlights as it gives me the fans view instead of the broadcasters.


The day Luke stood me up – we had planned to meet on his annual Christmas visit to Thomond but his good excuse was he took the opportunity to meet CJ instead!  No competition!

Thanks to Luke for volunteering to take the Q&A when I suggested this feature a few weeks ago.  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did.  Hopefully reading this may encourage others to volunteer so that this is not a one-off.  We have a couple of weekends with no Munster games coming up so I would love to have a few Q&As to publish then to keep the blog active.  You can skip some questions if you wish or suggest additional / replacement questions, it’s just a bit of fun 🙂


In case you missed it – interesting 2 part interview with Donncha on Sky Sport this week, here are the links: Part 1 and Part 2.