Needs must, and the greater need prevailed on this occasion as a strong Cookie’s performance prevailed on the day and the home side gained revenge for their 28 -21defeat at the Aviva Stadium last November.
With it came the added bonus of an away semi-final… at the Aviva Stadium against Lansdowne.
Lansdowne had the dubious benefit of a strong cross-field wind in the first half, but a muted performance failed to take any real advantage of the elements. The visitors lost their first lineout on a difficult day for the throwers, and this set the scene for a spluttering performance out of touch that affected attempts to build pressure on the home side.
Young Munster’s forwards were both lively and hungry, and they hunted well as a pack. Several passes went astray on both sides as the breeze made execution difficult. Out half Scott Deasy attempted two difficult penalty chances after 8 and 16 minutes, but both were off- target. A minute later the ever-sharp Foster Horan seized on an inside pass to set up Lansdowne’s first real chance of the game.
Lansdowne were denied a try in the 25th minute, with the referee deciding there had been a double movement in crossing the line. Following a quickly- taken tap penalty in the 34th minute, the Cookies advanced into the Lansdowne half for the first time and began to apply significant pressure on the visitor’s defence. Following several strong home attacks, tight head Adam Boland took one for the team and sat out the next 10 minutes.
The home side took advantage of Lansdowne’s reduced numbers, and they were rewarded with a try just before the break when prop Paul Allen was mauled over the line wide out. Centre Gearoid Lyons struck a great conversion across the wind to establish a 7-0 lead for the Munstermen at the break.
Lansdowne came out after the break showing greater determination and immediately went on the attack. Not for the first time the ball was coughed up, however, and the ball went to speedy winger Diarmaid McCarthy, who accelerated home from 65 metres out. The conversion was missed, but the home side had a valuable 12 points to 0 lead.
Restored to full numbers, Lansdowne upped the tempo, but struggled to make any real headway against a dogged home defence. Lansdowne were dealt a blow when the lively Horan went off with a knee injury, and scrum half Paddy O’Driscoll had to return as a stand-in winger. His replacement at scrum-half, Adam Grigg’s made a positive impact and it was his break in the 59th minute that almost led to a Lansdowne try.
With Young Munster replacement prop Paul Allen now in the bin, an uncontested 5 metre scrum led to a simple back line move which set O’Driscoll free to cross in the corner to reduce the margin to 12-5. It was significant that all three tries came during periods when the side conceding the points was down a man following yellow cards.
The Lansdowne bench made a positive impact, but the Cookies had their tails up by this stage and their momentum saw them through to the final whistle. A late Lyons penalty deprived Lansdowne of a losing bonus point, and set up a final score of 15-5 to the home side.
When the other results on the day became known, the joy of the home side and their supporters knew no bounds. On a four match winning roll, they will present a stern challenge for a full- strength Lansdowne side on Saturday week.
Needless to say, you are all urged to be there, as a significant element of Limerick’s population will be availing of their sponsor’s services (Bus Eireann) to support their team on the day. Let’s not be found wanting in the support stakes!
Well done to Ron Boucher and his side for finishing top of the pile by an impressive 12 points at the end of the League campaign. It would be a shame not to finish off the business, so let’s win the play-offs and making it a season to truly remember!!
Match Report: Michael Daly
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