9 Comments

Fire extinguishers at the ready for Keith’s feet of flames

header

The pre-match fireworks were nothing compared to how Keith Earls lit up a blustery night in Cork!  Gasps and cheers of appreciation greeted each replay as we saw him flick up the delightful grubber by Ian Keatley to score Munster’s third try of the evening on the big screen.  The huge smile on his face was infectious and his well-deserved Man of the Match award reflected the impact he had on the game, not just with that try but with many other breaks and tackles, keeping Munster on the front foot, which got the crowd involved.

Fireworks over the Red Shed as Duncan, BJ and Eusebio run out.  Photo by Daryl Feehely

Fireworks over the Red Shed as Duncan, BJ and Eusebio run out. Photo by Daryl Feehely

There were  fireworks to mark the official opening of IIP which were operated from right in front of the Red Shed.  Health and safety necessitated the fire extinguishers which you can see in the photo below!  After Simon Coveney unveiled the plaque there were fireworks and when Munster emerged from the changing rooms there were more flames to greet them before they got down to business.

Fire extinguishers at the ready for the pre-match fireworks

Fire extinguishers at the ready for the pre-match fireworks. Photo by Gayl

Like the Cardiff match two weeks ago the game was played at a high tempo with a lot of focus on offloading out of the tackle.   Sometimes it paid off, other times the offload went to a Glasgow player and they had to start again, but it was exciting to watch and worked more often than not.  From the match stats Munster are credited with 24 offloads compared to 8 by Glasgow which is up from 14 last week and 13 the previous week!

Denis Hurley continued his captaincy role and continued to build on his midfield partnership with Keith Earls.  A great break by Earls in the 7th minute got our hearts racing as he tore up the field from just outside his own 22 almost to the Glasgow 22 but when he tried to get a pass away to Jack O’Donoghue who showed great pace to be up in support it was Niko Matawalu who got in between them and claimed the ball.

Minutes later Earls took off again, this time on the Red Shed side, from inside the Munster half almost up to the 5m line.  He got the pass away to Conway in support but the latter’s pass went to a Glasgow player and the opportunity was lost but it was exciting and gave us hope that they would make the breakthrough and score soon.  Surprisingly it took until twenty minutes for a first goal attempt but the penalty kick was unsuccessful and it remained scoreless for another 7 minutes!

MOTM Keith Earls gets away from the tackle.  Photo by Daryl Feehely

MOTM Keith Earls gets away from the tackle. Photo by Daryl Feehely

There was lovely interplay between Hurley and Williams which got Munster close again to the 5m line but Glasgow won a scrum.  The Munster pack put huge pressure on Glasgow in that scrum and when they cleared their lines it only got as far as Ronan O’Mahony who passed infield to JJ Hanrahan.  When he was tackled Williams got the pass to Keatley who attacked the gain line, drew the defenders and got the pass to Jack O’Donoghue who scored the try, his third in three games!  The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but Munster kept pushing forward.

Jack O'Donoghue scores his 3rd try in 3 games. Photo by Daryl Feehely

Jack O’Donoghue scores his 3rd try in 3 games. Photo by Daryl Feehely

Keatley made another break, this time it was Dougall on his shoulder.  A few phases later Hanrahan put O’Mahony through the gap, he offloaded to Billy Holland who in turn got the ball to Williams.  A series of pick and goes kept the pressure on the Glasgow line and when they infringed Munster took a 5m lineout.  The maul was deployed and led to the first try for Munster by Eusebio Guinazu which Keatley converted.  Glasgow came close to scoring at the end of the first half but I believe it was Williams who got the turnover and set Ronan O’Mahony off up the field but Glasgow scrambled back to cut him off and Nigel Owens blew for half time.

And the Oscar goes to... Oscar for his half time dancing!

And the Oscar goes to… Oscar for his half time dancing!  Photo by Gayl

In the second half Niko Matawalu moved from winger to scrum half and was his usual lively self.  He thought he was in for an early try but the TMO disallowed it due to a knock-on.  Glasgow got their first penalty kick opportunity on 51 minutes but were unsuccessful.  However a second opportunity straight afterwards gave Braid a second opportunity which he converted to make it 12-3.   They then had a purple patch and held onto possession for phase after phase.  Eventually they made a mistake and the ball came loose.  However Dougall sliced his kick into touch handing them back possession which led to their try through their tighthead De Klerk who powered through several tackles to score under the posts making it an easy conversion and bringing the score to 12-10!  However the magic moment came next.  Not only showing his great pace but his excellent footballing skills to control the ball at pace, Zebo-esque!  Unfortunately the conversion came off the post to leave the score 17-10.

An excellent period of possession just moments later got Munster deep again into the Glasgow half.  Matawalu’s box-kick from a Glasgow maul was blocked down and Munster regained possession.  O’Mahony set off on the counter attack, Williams gave a reverse pass to Holland who returned it to Williams before Stander and then Hurley took it on.  Play switched to the other side where Keatley passed to Paddy Butler, then Archer, Guinazu, Stander, Butler, Kilcoyne, Stander, Williams, Keatley, Smith, all took it on.  Their efforts deserved a try but they had to settle for a penalty.  From the resultant lineout came the crucial bonus point try when the maul was deployed again and this time it was Stander who scored.  A great period of the game which really demonstrated the offloading skills and the strength of the Munster bench, many of whom had an impact in the build up to that try.

CJ Stander scores the bonus point try off a maul.  Photo by Daryl Feehely

CJ Stander scores the bonus point try off a maul. Photo by Daryl Feehely

Glasgow kept the pressure on, looking for something from the game, a try would gain them a losing bonus point.   They came very close in the final few minutes. Nigel Owens was happy with the grounding but wanted to check if #22 Lee Jones had been pushed into touch by Billy Holland.  The hawkeye system allowed them to split-screen the 2 camera angles – grounding ball and feet and the try was disallowed.  A key contribution by Billy who had another good game after his call-up to train with the Irish squad during the week.

Nigel Owens reviews the TMP footage and confirms foot in touch, thus denying Glasgow a LBPNigel Owens reviews the TMP footage and confirms foot in touch, thus denying Glasgow a LBP.  The hawkeye view on the right shows the 2 angles in split screen, the grounding and his feet

Nigel Owens reviews the TMO footage and confirms foot in touch, thus denying Glasgow a LBP.     The hawkeye view on the right shows in split screen, the grounding and his feet in touch thanks to Billy Holland

Shane Buckley, a late replacement for Dave O’Callaghan came on for Donncha who sprinted off like a young fella after a tough 78 minutes.  Hard to believe just over a year has passed since his big night when he became the most capped Munster player and he is still going strong ( see my blog from last Feb “Storm Donncha, 241 caps not out”).

Donncha encourages Shane Buckley before sprinting off

Donncha encourages Shane Buckley before sprinting off. Photo by Gayl

Just like last year Ireland was being hit by storms, with a yellow weather alert making me wonder if I should even travel to the game but it was not as bad in Munster as it was in the west coast.  Still I could feel my car being buffeted as I drove to Cork and as the wind was swirling it made it a difficult night for place kicking.

The flags down the Dolphin end were indicating the strength of the wind

The flags down the Dolphin end were indicating the strength of the wind. Photo by Gayl

Glasgow were missing 23 players to the Scottish team, injury or suspension but Munster were also missing players, including Donnacha Ryan who was interviewed pre-match and is hopefully nearing the end of his 10 month injury lay-off.  Chances are high that these two teams will meet again when at full strength later in the play-offs.  In the meantime it’s important to keep in the top 2 for the valuable home advantage in the semi-final.

The extended table from the Pro12 rugby site shows Munster on top but also with a good points difference and try scored numbers.

The detailed table from the Pro12 rugby site shows Munster on top but also with a good points difference and try scored numbers.

Munster: JJ Hanrahan; Andrew Conway (Smith 58), Keith Earls, Denis Hurley – capt. (Dineen 78), Ronan O’Mahony; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams (Cronin 77); John Ryan (Kilcoyne 64), Eusebio Guinazu, BJ Botha (Archer 58); Donncha O’Callaghan (Buckley 78), Billy Holland; Jack O’Donoghue (Butler 61), Sean Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Stephen Archer, Shane Buckley, Paddy Butler, Neil Cronin, Andrew Smith, Ivan Dineen.

Glasgow Warriors – P Murchie (G Bryce, 77); N Matawalu, R Vernon, F Lyle, DTH van der Merwe; C Braid, M McConnell (L Jones, 45); A Allan (J Yanuyanutawa, 64), P MacArthur (D Hall, 37), R de Klerk (D Rae, 69); J Eddie (A Toolis, 77), A Kellock (capt); A Ashe (T Spinks, 69), W Bordill, J Strauss (R Hughes, 69).

TG4 highlights part 1: http://nasc.tg4.tv/1zvX7W5 and part 2:  http://nasc.tg4.tv/1GDMs1a

Official Pro12 highlights:

Daryl’s photos are available HERE

There were some PA announcements about cars parked illegally in the neighbourhood.  We were amused to hear of such a car blocking not one but two driveways!   Joe tweeted me that one was in relation to Nigel Owens’ car but that was a windup.  Meanwhile his sister Hilary who I assume was watching the game in Luxembourg sent me on the following twitter chat for the blog which brought back some themes from my recent “50 shades” blog!

tweet_CJ

All I will say is that the red ones were indeed lucky as CJ scored the key bonus point try!  It is also a nice link to the song from “50 Shades..” which thanks to GiftGrub has been in my head for the past few days and features several Munster regulars!

So as Gift Paulie says, Munster “what are you waiting for?” Let’s build on this win and consolidate our position on top of the table next weekend in Wales!

Thanks to Hilary for pushing Luxembourg up the league table of countries viewing this blog, catching up on Luke’s views from Qatar!  If any of you have rugby friends amongst the diaspora, especially in the US and Australia I would appreciate you sharing this blog with them.

Thanks to Tony for suggesting that I change the hyperlinks to open a new window in future.  Any other suggestions will be appreciated!

Well done my young apprentice!  Love this photo by Daryl Feehely of Donncha congratulating Jack

Well done my young apprentice! Love this photo by Daryl Feehely of Donncha congratulating Jack

Advertisements

9 comments on “Fire extinguishers at the ready for Keith’s feet of flames

  1. from Twitter:
    John: superb blog. Beautiful writing am a west terrace ticket holder myself but tend to miss most pro 12 with underage training comments

    Helen: great blog as usual how do you capture atmosphere & finer details you can’t play them back!! Total recall?

  2. Great blog….Great match…..Just as many fireworks on the pitch as in the air. Great weekend for our boys to give a comprehensive display on a 6 Nations weekend.

  3. I see you now have a photo of CJ’s red undies!

  4. Great blog! The atmosphere in cork was great and earls was back to his best. I can’t remember the last time he played that well in a red shirt. Himself and Hurley seem to be gelling well in the centres too so fingers crossed they both stay injury free for the rest of the season

    • Thanks Philip, glad you enjoyed it! The fast offloading game really suits Keith and I agree there is a great rapport developing between him and Hurley. Martin on twitter said Keith must have had extra cylinders installed during his injury – he certainly seems to have a few extra gears this season and didn’t Jack do well to keep up with him in his early break! I had to rewind the highlights on TG4 to double check who it was as was on the opposite side. Very entertaining evening! Hopefully no more injuries this season and a few more to return soon like Donnacha, fingers crossed.

  5. Blog mór Gayl agus scéal iontach.. flags, fireworks, meeting friends pitch side, a roaring Red Shed, Earls on fire, Bonus points, Demons laid to rest. 7631 eyes on Nigel’s every whistle. Even Hawkeye got a look in on the big screen. Top of the Guinness Pro 12 Table.Then reading this great blog today… Bien fait Gayl et nous donner plus se il vous plaît. More please !!!!!!!!!

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: