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Munster ‘A’ See Off Connacht Counterparts

Munster ‘A’ See Off Connacht Counterparts

A much improved second half performance that yielded tries for fit-again prop Dave Ryan and captain Peter O’Mahony saw Munster ‘A’ run out comfortable 28-11 winners over Connacht ‘A’ at a well-attended Thomond Park Stadium on Thursday.

‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Thursday, February 4

MUNSTER ‘A’ 28 CONNACHT ‘A’ 11, Thomond Park Stadium

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Scorers: Munster ‘A’: Tries: Danny Barnes, Dave Ryan, Peter O’Mahony; Con: Declan Cusack; Pens: Declan Cusack 3
Connacht ‘A’: Try: Mike McComish; Pens: Miah Nikora 2

Although they were far from perfect in the opening half, Munster ‘A’ led 14-6 at the break but ended the first period reduced to 14 players after flanker Dave Sherry stretched referee Leo Colgan’s patience too far and earned himself 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

However, Munster ‘A’ made light of his absence and by the time he returned to the fray, they had already upped the ante to take control of what was an entertaining match.

Once restored to their full complement, the home side dominated the second half and it was only at the death that Connacht ‘A’ managed to lift the siege and score a consolation try from their number 8 and captain Mike McComish.

The westerners put in a decent shift and had impressiver performers in full-back Tiernan O’Halloran, centre Brian Tuohy and prop Jamie Hagan, while young UCG flanker Eoin McKeon was a hard worker throughout.

Three Declan Cusack penalties and a try from centre Danny Barnes had Munster ‘A’ eight points ahead at half-time but their discipline cost them dearly at times particularly when Sherry was singled out for a yellow card that might have been presented to a number of his colleagues.

Connacht ‘A’ enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead when out-half Miah Nikora kicked them into a 3-0 with a penalty.

It was a lead that lasted all of three minutes, Cusack converting a penalty from the left and the home number 10 improved on that in the 14th minute, his penalty from the right squeezing over off the left-hand upright.

Connacht ‘A’ levelled with another Nikora penalty as Munster ‘A’ continued to rack up the penalties but in the 22nd minute good hands from Tom Gleeson – after a probing run from the lively Dave Ryan – put Barnes over for the opening try.

Cusack missed the conversion but added a 26th minute penalty and as Munster ‘A’, who also had Ciaran O’Boyle back from injury, continued to concede penalties at close quarters.

New Zealander Nikora had a couple of opportunities to reduce the deficit but was wide on both occasions.

Whatever Munster ‘A’ coaches Anthony Foley and Ian Costello said to their players at half-time had the desired effect because there was a new purpose to them in the second half.

Replacement Tommy O’Donnell ran strong and straight in the 52nd minute, Ryan and skipper Peter O’Mahony took the ball on and when the movement went right, the westerners were unable to stem the flow and Ryan crashed over for the try.

Munster ‘A’ kept the pressure on Connacht ‘A’ who rarely were allowed out of their own 22 and in the 62nd minute when they probed down the blindside, O’Mahony was on hand to score his side’s third try, which Cusack converted.

The victory, which follows wins over Leinster and Ulster earlier in the season, sets O’Mahony and company up nicely for the resumption of the British & Irish Cup next weekend as Nottingham pay a visit to the Waterford Regional Sports Centre.

MUNSTER ‘A’: Danny Riordan; Ciaran O’Boyle, Danny Barnes, Tom Gleeson, Ronan O’Mahony; Declan Cusack, Paul Rowley; Dave Ryan, Sean Henry, Stephen Archer, Ed Kelly, Dave Foley, Dave Sherry, Eoghan Grace, Peter O’Mahony (capt).

Replacements used: Tommy O’Donnell for Grace (14 mins), Damien Varley for Henry, Conor Murray for Rowley (both 50), Sean Scanlon for O’Mahony (51), Billy Holland for Sherry (60), Ivan Dineen for Gleeson (63), Mike Kelliher for O’Boyle, Pa O’Regan for Ryan, Sean Duggan for Kelly (all 70).

CONNACHT ‘A’: Tiernan O’Halloran; Finn Gormley, Brian Tuohy, Aidan Wynne, Conor O’Loughlin; Miah Nikora, Adam Kennedy; Conor Higgins, Dermot Murphy, Jamie Hagan, Liam Scahill, Shane Casey, Eoin McKeon, Johnny O’Connor, Mike McComish (capt).

Replacements used: Adrian Flavin for Murphy, Mark Dolan for Kennedy, (both 55 mins), Joe Moran for Scahill (60), Dave Clarke for O’Halloran (61), James Robinson for Hagan (65), Conor Murphy for Nikora, Colin Conroy for O’Connor (both 74).

Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)