Munster arrived late at the Liberty stadium – 50 minutes before kick-off – due to their bus being delayed by a crash on the motorway and they remained on the back foot from the start as their handling and discipline let them down too often while the Ospreys were determined to get their league campaign back on track after losing 2 and drawing 1 of their last 3 games.
Kevin received a text during the first half advising that Michael Corcoran mentioned on the radio that referee Marius Mitrea was not impressed by Munster missing their pre-match meeting and that it would cost them 7 points in the game. Michael Corcoran was possibly referring to an incident with Connacht (as reported in the Indo here), but it coloured our view of the game and fuelled some conspiracy theories! When the first half stats showed 8 penalties conceded by Munster compared to none by Ospreys I had to wonder if Munster would have benefited from that meeting or if it was influencing the referee’s perception of the game whereas in reality it was my perception that was being coloured by misinformation!
It wasn’t until the 43rd minute that the Ospreys were penalised for the first time, for not rolling away after Ronan O’Mahony made a linebreak. That got the biggest cheer of the afternoon in Break for the Border where I was watching the game with MRSC Dublin. From that penalty taken just inside the Ospreys half, Ian Keatley found touch close to the 5m line and the pack mauled their way towards the tryline. While we with our bias noted Osprey players infringing to halt Munster’s progress the officials saw nothing wrong and eventually awarded Ospreys a scrum from which they cleared their lines.
When you combine that with the first half incident on 26′ where what looked to be a deliberate knock-on (and yellow card offence) was deemed to be just a knock-on resulting in a scrum, those were key moments which prevented Munster getting a foothold in the game. Especially when Munster were penalised for pushing early in that scrum, allowing Ospreys off the hook again.
The other turning point was the yellow card awarded as a result of a high tackle by Dave O’Callaghan after a team warning due to their high penalty count. During his sinbinning Ospreys scored a try through Dan Baker who juggled the pass well to run in unopposed while Sam Davies added a penalty and a drop goal just before half time, which on top of his two early penalties brought the score to 17-0.
During half time we were wondering when had Munster last failed to score, and Kevin had the answer – “I was there,” he said sadly, “away to Leinster in 2008!”
Earlier, just seven minutes into the game when our spirits were higher, a long kick was being carefully watched by Felix Jones before it rolled dead over the Munster try line. “Let it go, let it go, let it go” encouraged Kevin… to which James asked him if he was quoting from the Disney film Frozen. Maybe James should change his twitter name from Frost_James to Frozen_James as he is such a Disney fan! One who promised me a retweet for a mention this week 🙂
It took until the 71st minute for Munster to get on the scoreboard when the maul was successfully deployed from a lineout and the highlight of the day was seeing Donnacha Ryan back on the pitch in his first game this season. It was thought that he had scored off the maul but I see that honour goes to John Ryan so congratulations to John on his first senior try for Munster. Hopefully Donnacha will have no ill effects from his exertions and will have an injury free run for the rest of the season.
By that time Sam Davies had moved Ospreys to 20 points and shortly afterwards he added another 3 but the losing bonus point looked possible briefly when Earls scored Munster’s second try. The all new front row were involved in that move, a strong carry by John Ryan supported by fellow substitutes Donnacha Ryan and Andrew Smith, before Williams got the ball to Dave O’Callaghan who passed to CJ Stander, and on to Stephen Archer who deserves kudos for his nifty flick/pass to Kevin O’Byrne as he twirled out of the tackle. O’Byrne had Earls outside him who went onto score in the corner. Ian Keatley converted and an 11 point difference (23-12) made the LBP possible with 5 minutes left but another penalty for not releasing allowed Ospreys to play the clock down as they moved to 26-12 and Munster had no further opportunity to score.
Munster: JJ Hanrahan (A Smith 51); F Jones, K Earls, D Hurley (capt), R O’Mahony (A Conway 70); I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne (J Ryan 51), E Guinazu (K O’Byrne 60), BJ Botha (S Archer 60), Donncha O’Callaghan (D Ryan 60), B Holland, Dave O’Callaghan, S Dougall (J O’Donoghue 48), CJ Stander.
Ospreys: D Evans (B John 40); T Grabham, J Spratt, J Matavesi, H Dirksen, S Davies, T Habberfield (M Roberts 69); R Bevington (N Smith 47), S Otten (M Dwyer 70), A Jarvis (D Arhip 47), L Peers (R Thorton 47), T Ardron, J King, J Tipuric (capt), D Baker (M Allen 72).
Match stats here show Ospreys had 65% possession and 66% territory in the first half but Munster had 60% possession and 59% territory in the second and the scoring reflects that: 17-0 to Ospreys in first half, 12-9 to Munster in the 2nd half. Ospreys were also penalised more than Munster in the 2nd half but the damage had been done by then and so Munster left with nothing and have three weeks to wait before they have an opportunity to put things right, versus Connacht at Thomond. Connacht had their own set-back at the weekend, losing at the death to Cardiff and then to make it worse Leinster lost to Scarlets who are their main rivals for European Cup qualification from the Pro12 so there will be plenty at stake for all of the top 8 teams when the league resumes the weekend of March 28th.
All of Daryl’s photos from the game can be viewed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfeehely/sets/72157650820698880/
So after a disappointing afternoon’s viewing, we consoled ourselves that at least Ireland had won the cricket and that Donnacha Ryan was back. What were the odds of all four Irish provinces losing in Wales this weekend? Hopefully Ireland will avenge those losses and put the smile back on our faces next Saturday at the crunch Six Nations game in Cardiff while Irish success in Cheltenham this week would be good too!
It was nice to meet Dee and Bruce again and to hear about their trip to Galway for the game on New Years Day. While it was also a disappointing result they enjoyed meeting some of the players afterwards and appreciated the players posing for photos despite their disappointment after the game. This photo by Daryl of Donncha meeting Highfield RFC who had travelled to the Ospreys game reinforced Dee’s comments about how the players make time for their supporters:
Highfield RFC advised via twitter that they saw a family resemblance in the photo so maybe it was not such a random act of kindness but given Donncha is using his week off to go to Lebanon in his Ambassador role with Unicef Ireland he is still a hero to me 🙂
If any of my Limerick readers are interested in history, you may recall I wrote about Dermot and Eilis who I met through the meals and wheels before Christmas. Eilis’s son Gareth emailed me a copy of handwritten letter from Limerick man JJ Bowles which was sent to his grandfather FX Coghlan in November 1913 which he came across recently when researching his grandfather’s role in 1916. Both men were keen handball players.
Mr Coghlan senior was originally from Cork (a Munster man!) but moved to Ballyboden where he was friendly with the Pearse brothers who ran their school nearby. The house where he raised his family of 11 and which is still home to Eilis and Dermot was sold at auction last month and they are anxiously waiting to hear from the new owner about his plans for the property.
This weeks edition is dedicated to Kevin on the occasion of his birthday and maybe it will lead to getting a retweet from him 2 weeks in a row! Dee said she doesn’t retweet as she only has a handful of followers but I appreciate retweets as feedback that people actually like the blog. Final shout out goes to John Gillman who described last weeks blog as “superb” and “beautifully written” – his kind words will encourage me to keep going for another while 🙂