O'Connell's try was a picture-book lineout steal on 53 minutes, coming just five metres from the Connacht line. He swept in ahead of the westerners captain Andrew Farley and dived over for young New Zealand-born fly-half Jeremy Manning to convert for a 21-14 lead. Afterwards O'Connell paid tribute to Ireland colleague John Hayes for a superb lineout lift for his try.
"I may have been the try scorer, but John (Hayes), who gave me a single lift, did all the hard work. He does that kind of thing and never seems to get the credit," said the Limerick man.
"Personally, I was happy enough considering it was only my second game in six months. It's all about getting match fitness. It's only the guys in the squad know how hard everybody trains. The fitness levels of fellas like Trevor Hogan and Stephen Keogh are quite staggering and they're the kind of guys who don't get all that much game time. I was doing a bit of puffing out there but there were no knocks and I feel okay."
Winger Anthony Horgan, one of Munster's four try scorers, is tackled by Connacht's Tongan international centre Andrew Mailei. Horgan's 73rd-minute score was his second try in three Celtic League games this season.
Former Munster scrum half Tom Tierney releases the Connacht backs. Tierney, with eight Ireland caps to his name, cut a disappointed figure when he was taken off after nine minutes of the second half in favour of Chris Keane.
Anthony Horgan tries to hand off Connacht fly-half Paul Warwick as he surges forwards. Australian Warwick looked back in the groove, scoring a 47th-minute try and kicking a penalty and two conversions.
Connacht flanker Michael Swift tries to offload under pressure from Munster centre Barry Murphy. Swift was sin-binned for a high tackle on Munster fly-half Jeremy Manning on 57 minutes.
Jeremy Manning's breath shows how wintery conditions were at Thomond Park as he lines up a penalty kick.
Paul O'Connell directing operations during Munster's bonus point win.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**