David Corkery on rugby: Munster badly needed this win over Connacht but it's only one game - one win, they need more

I think it is imperative to start this review by paying homage to Scottish international Doddie Weir, who sadly passed away in the hours preceding this game on Saturday.The former Scotland and Lion’s international had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease six years ago, but fought it with such courage and dignity.
David Corkery on rugby: Munster badly needed this win over Connacht but it's only one game - one win, they need more

Munster players and supporters stand for a minute's silence at Thomond Park. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

I think it is imperative to start this review by paying homage to Scottish international Doddie Weir, who sadly passed away in the hours preceding this game on Saturday.

The former Scotland and Lion’s international had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease six years ago, but fought it with such courage and dignity. 

The fifty-two-year-old raised millions for MND research through his My Name'5 Doddie foundation, and his happy-go-lucky approach to life will be sadly missed. 

May he rest in peace.

Doddie Weir arriving for the BBC Sports Personality of the year 2019 at The P&J Live, Aberdeen.
Doddie Weir arriving for the BBC Sports Personality of the year 2019 at The P&J Live, Aberdeen.

Now back to the game.

If Munster ever needed a victory to reinvigorate their season, they needed things to go their way on Saturday evening, and thankfully they did.

Considering where Connacht and Munster found themselves in the URC league table, this was really a game that both sides needed to win and for Munster to have emerged with a full five-point haul at the final whistle was a very welcome early Christmas present for Graham Rowntree and his coaching staff.

Munster may have had to rely on some puzzling hometown refereeing decisions to see them pull clear of this very sticky Connacht side, but there are times you got to just ride your luck because next week those decisions will be awarded against you.

Andy Friend who will be leaving Connacht at the end of this season will have reviewed this game with his players today and they will be kicking themselves that they didn’t hammer home the dominance they enjoyed in the first half.

Largely due to a superior scrum, Connacht found themselves with a massive amount of possession and territory in the opening forty minutes and really should have amassed more points on the score board.

Munster’s Craig Casey celebrates as Calvin Nash crossed the line for a try
Munster’s Craig Casey celebrates as Calvin Nash crossed the line for a try

Through their vastly experienced front row of Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham the Connacht pack completely dominated their counter parts in the scrum and I was really surprised that Rowntree allowed Roman Salanoa to remain on the pitch for as long as he did.

Having signed from Leinster over a year ago, Salanoa hasn’t played much for Munster because of injury and to be very honest and blunt, if he doesn’t sort out his scrummaging proficiencies, he won’t be playing much more for them. 

Maybe the native from the islands of Hawaii just had a poor day in the office however, I can guarantee you that if Munster’s opponents on the night were operating off a more ruthless streak, they would have callously capitalised on this Munster frailty.

Somehow Munster managed to stay in touch with their visitors during the opening half and left the field with the scoreboard reading ten apiece.

Joey Carberry who got the nod over Jack Crowley to start in the number ten jersey did ok, and whilst he never looked like setting the field alight, he stood a good bit closer to the gain line which allowed his fellow backs to question the westerners rush defence with a bit more success than of late.

French man Antione Frisch, who made his first URC start for Munster looked dangerous with ball in hand and seems to have all the attributes that a quality midfield player should have.

For years now Munster have been crying out for a quality outside centre who has the ability to run clever lines of support, defend with a high success rate and more importantly score tries. 

Frisch still has a long way to go in proving himself as a match winner in the red jersey, but for now all the signs are good.

As stated previously, Munster needed this win very badly and thankfully they accomplished it however, there might have been a very costly price to pay.

Captain Peter O’Mahony never returned to the pitch after failing a HIA, and then Munster’s best player over the last two years Mike Haley, was also removed for another HIA and he never returned either. 

The loss of two such inspirational players is something Rowntree could do with out for their away trip to Edinburgh next week, especially now that he has some bit of momentum behind him.

Munster’s Antoine Frisch after the game
Munster’s Antoine Frisch after the game

This bonus point win for Munster has lifted them from the basement of the league table and afforded them a bit of breathing space however, the road ahead is going to be fraught with many obstacles.

If you look at their next five games alone, which will all take place on consecutive weekends between now and the 1st of January, Edinburgh(A) Toulouse(H) Northampton(A) Leinster(H) and Ulster(A) I would not blame you if you wanted to watch these games from behind your sofa.

Beating Connacht in Limerick is all well and good but, when you have the likes of Toulouse and Leinster rapidly approaching in your diary, getting the rub of the green and a few hometown decisions will count for very little.

I have no idea what kind of monitory package Rowntree is on with Munster, but whatever it is, I can assure you he will earn every single cent of it over the next few weeks.

I can also pledge to you that the full extent of Munster’s squad will be called upon to throw their shoulder to the wheel, and that the provinces participation in next seasons European Champions Cup is far from assured.

For now, it’s one game at a time and a decade of the rosery for some divine intervention.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more