When I can’t attend a match the next best thing is to watch it with other Munster fans. That is why I like to head into Break for the Border to watch a game with the MRSC Dublin branch where I am not alone shouting, clapping and cheering or sighing at the big screen. They have a reserved section with a big screen and decorate the area with Munster flags. People passing through must be surprised to see Munster supporters taking over a section of a bar in the centre of Dublin. At an MRSC Dublin Q&A event a few years back in Searsons, George Hook – one of the guests that night – was talking about the strong support base for Munster and said he could not imagine a Leinster supporters club in Limerick or Cork. I had a quick look on Facebook and Twitter but do not see one even today after their successes in the intervening years whereas the MRSC have branches in Dublin, London, Brussels, the USA and Sydney.
The Red Experience is not the same as being on the terrace but it is more sociable than sitting at home shouting at the TV and disturbing the neighbours especially in Leinsterland! Indeed if I went to my local pub they would probably be showing the Man U soccer game and not rugby. On Saturday Munster played Cardiff Blues in Thomond, looking to consolidate their play-off league standing and push on for a home semi-final. It was a special occasion for Ronan O’Gara also who would set a new record as the most capped Munster player of all time with 233 appearances, although the ever green Peter Stringer would be hoping to take that distinction back for himself during the Six Nations campaign. It was also great to see Keith Earls and CJ Stander return from injury.
Expectations were high that Munster would win comfortably and maybe take over 2nd place in the league with a bonus point win, or move to joint second with a 4 point win. However it was not to be… The first half was pretty dour with just a penalty goal each leaving the teams tied at 3-3. Munster had lost Conor Murray and Mike Sherry to injury. The scrum was dominating but the line out was not and there was too much lateral play, passing the ball out from wing to wing making it easy for Cardiff to defend. In fact Cardiff looked more likely to score from a counter-attacking move and would have except Donnacha Ryan got there in the nick of time. There was a good discussion at half time amongst the supporters present and we hoped for a better performance in the second half, like we had seen in the Glasgow home game where they went from 3-3 at half time to win by 31-3. However it was Cardiff who found the gap and scored early in the second half. Munster replied almost immediately with a penalty to bring the score to 6-10 but the failed to score again while Cardiff scored a second try. In fact they could have scored three in the second half except for a forward pass. There was a lot of huffing and puffing, the steam from the scrums mingling with the fog which had descended on Cork. Twice from scrums in good positions Munster lost control of the ball and Cardiff escaped. Munster lacked penetration, a cutting edge tonight and they also lost the battle of the breakdown where the Cardiff back row dominated. A much improved performance will be required to keep their season alive and there are some players to return to the starting 15 – Simon Zebo, Peter O’Mahony and Donncha O’Callaghan – who will help the team regroup and raise their intensity for the coming challenges as they return to European Cup action.
I am going to Edinburgh for my second away game of the season. When the European draw is done I always look to see if there is a game easily accessible from London where I have free accommodation with my friends in Hayes. From there I have gone to Watford this season, Milton Keynes last season and Coventry in 2007/2008. This year some of my friends were heading to Edinburgh so I decided to join them. The flights were booked in Sept, the hotel in October and everything was planned, weather permitting! Given our trip to San Sebastian survived the volcanic ash disruptions in 2010 hopefully our luck will hold again. So far the long range forecasts are looking ok…
It will be interesting to see if the Red Army will turn Murrayfield into a “home” game for Munster, as Edinburgh normally have 3-6K supporters. As seats are not allocated (so first come first served) we won’t be too dispersed throughout the venue and can make ourselves seen and heard in the cavernous stadium.
The blog is getting hits mainly from Ireland and the UK but I was delighted and surrised to get 6 hits from Aruba in the Caribbean on New Years day! I assume one person reading the 6 different updates or on a dodgy internet connection, or else there really are 6 different supporters there and it may be the next location to set up a local branch of the MRSC. This is the “league table” of countries with the most views to date. Hope you enjoy the blog anyway and the reports from the terrace helps the diaspora feel like they are there…
Thanks to Daryl Feehely for the use of his action shot from last weekends game – behind the action on the pitch is the West Terrace where I am watching with my friends. You can see all his photos from the game here
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