David Corkery: How much longer can Munster fans accept such awful defeats to Leinster?

'Yes, we can point the finger at the Bath-bound Johann van Graan, but at this stage blaming the coach will get us nowhere...'
David Corkery: How much longer can Munster fans accept such awful defeats to Leinster?

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony and Ben Healy are dejected after the game. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

SAME old story: another demoralising and depressing day in the life and times of a Munster supporter.

Eleven years of barren and fruitless rugby is a very long time for any group of fans to be waiting for something tangible to celebrate. 

While those who support Munster rugby are exceptional in so many ways, I can’t see them spending their hard-earned money for much longer if the players continue to produce awful performances when it matters most.

Yes, we can point the finger at the Bath-bound Johann van Graan, but at this stage blaming the coach will get us nowhere. Munster’s fall from grace is much deeper than just one man and the sooner we accept that the entire establishment needs a complete rebuild, the sooner we will see Munster captains getting presented with trophies again.

As soon as Van Graan announced he was heading to England, he should have been shown the door. 

To do that the South African would have had to be paid off and with the Munster coffers already stretched to the limit, that was never going to be an option. 

What we were left with was a coach that has no idea of how to develop an adequate game-plan and fix issues that arise on a weekly basis.

BIG BOYS

Sadly, Munster have become masters of beating lesser teams. Yet as Saturday night proved once again, when the big boys come to play, Munster’s limitations very quickly emerge.

The '16th man' of Thomond Park has long been associated with Munster’s miraculous performances but I can tell you now that those who back the team are at breaking point.

The mutterings of displeasure from the faithful are no longer of the wishy-washy type. There now exists overwhelming animosity and unless the blazers take some drastic action very soon, the loyalty that once defined Munster rugby will be gone.

Munster’s Craig Casey shows his disappointment. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Munster’s Craig Casey shows his disappointment. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

On paper, this game, which was postponed on two separate occasions because of Covid, looked as if could be one hell of a cracker. Both coaches were thankfully allowed to call on many of their international players after the Six Nations and there was genuine hope that Munster could turn the tide.

As expected, Munster emerged from the dressing room with fire in their eyes but you need a whole lot more than that to beat Leinster.

Through some strong and effective ball-carrying bursts from South African Jason Jenkins, making his first start, and Munster looked as if their level of performance was pitched at the right level. However, Leinster just soaked up everything Peter O’Mahony and his players threw at them.

Come half-time Munster trailed by just two points: 12-14. They were just about holding on and when Leinster unleashed Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong early in the second half, they were able to turn their dominance into points and ruthlessly showed Munster why they are the kings of Irish and European rugby.

It ended up four tries to Munster’s one and the Reds departed the scene scratching their heads.

Of the many individual battles that were played out during this game, Leinster won them all. Perhaps the most interesting was the showdown between Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne.

Munster’s Joey Carbery is tackled by Cian Healy and Ross Molony of Leinster. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Munster’s Joey Carbery is tackled by Cian Healy and Ross Molony of Leinster. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Carbery, who has been very unlucky with injuries, did nothing wrong but when your backs are to the wall, doing nothing wrong is not good enough. Byrne was peerless and the way he managed his back line was a pleasure to watch.

Just as Jamison Gibson-Park has done for Ireland ever since he took ownership of the number nine jersey from Conor Murray, he offered the Leinster backs a supply of clean, accurate and most importantly rapid ball.

Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw looked as if they were linked telepathically and some of their first and second phase plays had Chris Farrell and Damian de Allende second-guessing.

Next weekend Munster head back to Heineken Champions Cup action against the Exeter Chiefs and we all know what the European Cup means to them. It’s an opportunity to regain a bit of momentum, but all I can see at this point is another season of finger pointing and trophy-less cabinets in Thomond Park.

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