The lovely spring evening did not bring out a big crowd to support the B&I Cup quarter final in Donnybrook. I bought a terrace ticket for €10 on the gate and was surprised that they allowed everyone into the stand as it was supposed to be €15, but that was the only good value to be had on the night as Munster A were knocked out of the B&I Cup for the second year in a row by Leinster A. The team was being announced over the tannoy as I arrived and I was puzzled to hear that it included van den Heever, Hurley, Johnny Holland and Stander! I had spent €2 on a program to help me keep track of the players but it was a waste of money as it also had the wrong team listed and to add insult to injury it opened out to form an A2 size poster of a Leinster player but Sinead was happy to take it home to put on her bedroom wall 🙂
There was a decent smattering of Munster supporters there, hoping for a good start to the weekend of rugby, and there was a good start with Munster winning a penalty from the first scrum, but that was as good as it got until almost the end of the first half, by which stage Leinster were 25 points up to Munsters nil.
Several misfiring lineouts, two penalties conceded in quick succession and missed tackles allowed Leinster built up a 11-0 lead before Munster managed to hold onto the ball for any period of time. It was a dominant first half for Leinster with tries for Marsh, Reid and Conan plus 2 penalties and 2 conversions for Marsh. There was almost a touch of Munster magic when Rory Scannell broke through and we thought he made the line but Sam Coghlan Murray had done enough to prevent the score. From the resultant 5m scrum to Munster they were driven backwards but managed to win a penalty which Scannell converted to get Munster onto the scoreboard before half time.
However Rory had been treated for an injury when he almost scored the try and was replaced by David Johnston from the start the second half. Munster continued to put on the pressure and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty and from the resultant lineout they successfully mauled over the line with Paddy Butler getting up from the bottom of the pile with the ball. The PA announcer credited it to Shane Buckley but he had also said that Rory Scannell had replaced Johnny Holland so we could not trust him!
Munster A managed to cross the try line again in the second half with Ireland U/20 star Jack O’Donoghue scoring the other try which was converted. So Munster outscored Leinster in the third quarter but the final quarter belonged to Leinster again as they finished strongly with a total of 3 more tries in the second half from Denton, Marsh and Andrew Boyle to bring the final scoreline to 47-15.
I don’t know why the B&I Cup only have 1 prop on the bench (22 not 23 players per team) but it caused an issue for both teams and eventually resulted in having to move to uncontested scrums. We thought that Munster were then down to 14 players not having anyone left who could come on but maybe someone else can confirm if that was the case.
Many of the Leinster A players played in the RaboPro12 league while their Ireland players were away which may have stood to them tonight when they had the upper hand in many facets. Ronan O’Mahony was the most potent Munster player and looked like he would breakthrough several times to continue his good record in this competition but it was not Munster’s night and the one sided nature of the game was very disappointing, while some of the injuries especially to the props looked serious. In fact I think Niall Horan should have gone off sooner after a bad clash of heads with Niall Scannell but due to the lack of a replacement he played on after a long bout of treatment.
Mun A: R O’Mahony; Conway, Bohane, Dineen, O’Dea; R Scannell, G Hurley; N Horan, N Scannell, B Scott; D O’Shea, B Holland; S Buckley, B O’Mahony(C), P Butler
Reps: Ger Slattery, Rory Burke, Sean McCarthy, Jack O’Donoghue, Brian Haugh, David Johnston, Niall Kenneally.
Leinster team: Hudson, Coghlan-Murray, O’Shea, Reid, Boyle, Marsh, McGrath; O’Connell, Tracy, Kelly, Denton, Roux, Marshall, Ryan (c), Conan.
Replacements: Byrne B, Byrne E, Molony, Auva’a, Cooney, Crosbie, Daly
There was a good class of supporter present as this photo indicates – see the group in tuxedos in the top left. Perhaps they were going on to the Trinity Ball. The Leinster supporter in front of us was very friendly and showed me the printout he had of the team named when things got too confusing.
It was good also to meet twitter buddy Alan and blog follower John at the game.
So the appetiser did not live up to expectations but an early start is planned to get to Limerick tomorrow to soak up the atmosphere from the terrace, building up to a rousing chorus of Stand Up and Fight before the team emerge. This sketch from Ger Mallen sums up the air of anticipation that has been building all this long week.. hopefully to be unleashed on Toulouse and show them what the Thomond Effect and Red Army are all about.
So it is time to once again be loud and proud and red. Supporters will start gathering once the gates open, aware of the scale of the challenge. One look at the Toulouse team sheet will ensure expectations are realistic – this is not the type of French team we often get in Thomond who are only interested in their domestic league. This is Toulouse, 4 times Champions of Europe coming to turn us over in our home ground. It will need to be a high intensity team performance with aggressive in your face defence, ensuring they shall not cross our line, led from the front by Peter and Paul. G’wan Munster!
PS wonder if including Niall Horan as a tag will result in random hits from 1 direction fans…?