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Celtic League: Munster Ensure Home Comfort

Celtic League: Munster Ensure Home Comfort

Munster overcame a sleepy start against Edinburgh on Saturday to end their league campaign with a 30-20 Thomond Park win and the only unbeaten home record in the competition.

Munster overcame a sleepy start against Edinburgh on Saturday to end their league campaign with a 30-20 Thomond Park win and the only unbeaten home record in the competition.

CELTIC LEAGUE: Saturday, April 16
Munster 30 Edinburgh 20, Thomond Park
Scorers: Munster: Tries: John Hayes, Alan Quinlan, Anthony Horgan, Denis Leamy 2; Con: Jason Holland; Pen: Paul Burke
Edinburgh: Tries: Phil Godman, Alasdair Dickinson; Cons: Chris Paterson 2; Pens: Paterson 2

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In coach Alan Gaffney’s final league encounter before his departure back to Australia, the second-placed province picked up a ninth home success, mainly thanks to fit-again flanker Denis Leamy’s’ two-try salvo.

Leamy showed no ill effects of the hamstring injury which disrupted his debut Six Nations. As a late replacement for an ill David Wallace, he stole the show after Munster had weathered an early battering from the geed-up Gunners – who were aiming for a last-gasp lunge at a home Celtic Cup quarter-final draw.

Scotland full-back Chris Paterson found his range early with two penalties, but only after Edinburgh fly-half Phil Godman had found his way the cover to net the opening try after barely 2 minutes.

The Scots – who tied up the signing of captain Todd Blackadder earlier in the week, for another year – were motoring at 13-0 inside 9 minutes. Then, Munster – as is their wont at fortress Thomond – clicked into gear.

A whole different complexion was put on the tie as first, prop John Hayes celebrated his British and Irish Lions call-up in style with a maul over try on 25 minutes.

Home fly-half Jason Holland, in his 100th appearance for the men in red, converted and his half-back partner Peter Stringer did the damage in the closing stages of the first half as he had a hand in touch downs for Alan Quinlan and Anthony Horgan.

Turning 17-13 in front, Munster pushed further in front as Leamy crossed for an uncoverted scored.

Munster lapsed again though as lively Edinburgh substitute Alasdair Dickinson forced his way over after a concerted spell of pressure from the visitors.

Paterson’s conversion from the touchline meant there was still all to play for.

Leamy then showed his hunger for a place in Ireland’s tour squad for their June trip to Japan as he blocked down a clearance kick to pick up and score late on. And although substitute Paul Burke robbed Edinburgh of a bonus point in injury-time – ironically Gaffney’s charges are now teed up to meet the Gunners in the Celtic Cup’s last eight as Frank Hadden’s side have claimed a league finish of seventh.

Afterwards Gaffney admitted his side will have to start putting full 80-minute performances together if they are stand a chance of Cup success.

“We’ve been making life hard for ourselves by starting poorly of late. You cannot afford to do that against a side like Edinburgh,” he said.

“They’re a good side. Even in the second half when we got on top of them, they stuck to their game-plan and kept coming at us.”


(15) Shaun Payne
(14) Paul Devlin
(13) Mike Mullins
(12) Rob Henderson
(11) Anthony Horgan
(10) Jason Holland
(9) Peter Stringer
(1) Gordon McIlwham
(2) Frank Sheahan
(3) John Hayes
(4) Trevor Hogan
(5) Paul O’Connell
(6) Alan Quinlan
(7) Denis Leamy
(8) Anthony Foley (Capt)

Replacements used: John Kelly for Horgan (45 mins), Donncha O’Callaghan for Hogan (62), Paul Burke for Henderson (68), Stephen Keogh for Leamy (73), Eugene McGovern for McIlwham (79). Not used: Jerry Flannery, Mike Prendergast.

Edinburgh: Hugo Southwell; Chris Paterson, Marcus Di Rollo, Brendan Laney, Simon Webster; Phil Godman, Mike Blair; Allan Jacobsen, Andrew Kelly, Craig Smith, Nathan Hines, Scott Murray, Todd Blackadder (Capt), Allister Hogg, David Callam.

Replacements used: Craig Joiner for Laney (31 mins), Dougie Hall for Kelly (half-time), Alasdair Dickinson for Jacobsen (51), Simon Cross for Callum (62), Alastair Kellock for Hines (79). Not used: Rory Lawson, Michael Pyke.

HT: Munster 17 Edinburgh 13; Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales)