In good company with former champions Toulouse and Leicester, Munster had no involvement in the quarter finals of the European Cup this weekend. Unlike the excitement of last years quarter-final win over Toulouse (relive it here) or the previous year over Harlequins (what a day out that was!) Munster players instead got involved in the Team Limerick Cleanup campaign and possibly reflected on their home defeat to Clermont and a few other what-ifs but you can be sure their focus is firmly on the Pro12 and ensuring a better seeding for next season’s European campaign along with the hope of silverware in May. After Clermont’s demolition of Northampton in the quarter-final I think Munster did very well to earn a losing bonus point in Clermont in December, and given both Saracens and Clermont qualified for the semi-finals again, along with Toulon and Leinster we really were in the Pool of Death where 3 into 2 just won’t go. I expect an all French final with home country advantage counting in the semi-finals but Munster kept in touch with Toulon last season (highlights included a try by Zebo and a great block down by James Coughlan – see blog) so you never know!
As supporters we had been lucky to enjoy European action in April for the past 16 seasons (the last time we were knocked out of the Heineken Cup we qualified for the Amlin Cup) while clubs in England and France looked on enviously. The creation of the new competition and all the talk of meritocracy dominated last season, and given the new competitiveness in the Pro12 they may have had a point. While there is now a lot of money in some clubs leading to the creation of “super” clubs like in the soccer world I believe there is something special about the ethos at Munster as exemplified by our leaders Paul and Peter.
It was this time last year that Peter O’Mahony’s season ended and he underwent two shoulder reconstructions. Since his return in October he has continued where he left off and was included in Will Greenwood’s team of the Six Nations with this tribute:
‘If all the wild horsemen of the apocalypse came around the corner O’Mahony would charge straight back at them.’ taken from http://www.sportsjoe.ie/rugby/will-greenwood-peter-omahony-six-nations/18821
Young Jack O’Donoghue seems to be cut from similar Munster cloth, giving us hope for a bright future! And he is not the only one, watch Academy centre/outhalf Rory Scannell drag the Connacht A full back over the line as he scored the first try for Munster about 1 minute into this highlights clip from the A game this week – almost Ginger McLoughlin-esque:
I listened to the Leinster v Bath game on the radio and was delighted at the warm reception for Peter Stringer on his 100th European appearance. For all Peter Stringer fans, this interview was shown on Setanta Ireland during the week. Watch him discuss the pass to Ronan O’Gara to set up the grandslam winning drop goal and his desire to play rugby. Given that I cannot see him playing for Leinster next season as once the world cup is over he would be back to where he was at Munster a few seasons ago, not even on the bench, but I hope he gets a suitable offer and continues to follow his dream.
As renewal season kicks off for the Supporters Club the MRSC put out this video to encourage members to #ContinueTheJourney – reminsice on past successes and dream of future ones.
The scheduling of games in the early part of this season was not supporter friendly but hopefully this has been sorted out. Luckily I was able to get to all our home games so the discount of buying a season ticket was good value for me and I will do the same for next season. Whether or not I continue the blog is a separate decision. The European quarter-final weekend has been the highlight of views for the past 2 seasons so I will miss that peak this year but a Pro12 final might make up for it 🙂
BREAKING NEWS on Monday: 24 year old centre Francis Saili signed a 2 year deal with Munster and in this article in the 42.ie there are plenty of positives. While we await his arrival we will anticipate what he can add to our backline next season: http://www.the42.ie/francis-saili-munster-2032352-Apr2015/
And for a lighter side – his take on Jerry Maguire
CANCELLED: If I am in Tipperary on Saturday April 18th I will go along to Cashel RFC to see how Munster Schools Champions Rockwell fare against Leinster Schools Champions Roscrea in this charity game and maybe see some Munster stars of the future! CANCELLED
As you may have missed it here are the highlights from the Munster A v Ulster Ravens game at Nenagh recently
Finally I found this insight into the GPS trackers that the players all wear now interesting and have included it here in case you missed it: