As they build for next month’s British & Irish Cup quarter-final, Munster ‘A’ overcame Connacht Eagles 32-26 in an eight-try thriller at Dooradoyle on Friday afternoon.
‘A’ INTERPROVINCIAL MATCH: Friday, March 7
MUNSTER ‘A’ 32 CONNACHT EAGLES 26, Dooradoyle
Scorers: Munster ‘A’: Tries: Ronan O’Mahony, Cian Bohane, Barry O’Mahony 2; Cons: Johnny Holland 2, Rory Scannell; Pens: Johnny Holland, Rory Scannell
Connacht Eagles: Tries: Matt Healy, Darragh Leader 3; Cons: Miah Nikora, Jack Carty 2
Ronan O’Mahony and Cian Bohane both touched down in the first half to give Munster ‘A’ a 15-12 half-time lead, with captain Barry O’Mahony dotting down twice in the second period to secure the home win.
Connacht Eagles centre Darragh Leader scored a hat-trick of tries after winger Matt Healy crossed early on for the westerners, but it was to no avail as Munster ‘A’ secured their third victory over the Eagles in three interprovincial clashes this season.
The hosts’ head coach Peter Malone fielded a strong side for the clash with new signing Quentin MacDonald starting alongside senior players such as Billy Holland, Paddy Butler and Ivan Dineen.
Similarly, Connacht also fielded a strong side with former Ireland international Gavin Duffy captaining the Eagles from full-back.
The Connacht men made a dream start when Healy darted through a gap in the Munster ‘A’ defence before touching down in the left corner with out-half Miah Nikora off target with the conversion.
Johnny Holland hit back with the first penalty of the game after a Connacht Eagles offside to make it 5-3 to the visitors after eight minutes.
Leader crossed for his first try in the 22nd minute when the Eagles exploited an overlap on the left wing. This time Nikora’s conversion kick sailed through the posts and Connacht had a healthy 12-3 lead.
Munster ‘A’ hit back with their first try just three minutes later when Ronan O’Mahony finished well in the right corner after a great break by Luke O’Dea. Holland missed difficult conversion but the Connacht lead was cut to four points.
Munster ‘A’ went ahead for the first time just after the half hour when Bohane powered over from close range with Holland adding the easy conversion for a 15-12 buffer at the break.
This entertaining game produced another four tries in the second half with Munster ‘A’ captain Barry O’Mahony scoring the first after 49 minutes.
He pounced on a mistake in the Connacht midfield before showing great pace to outsprint the retreating defence and touch down. Holland once again added the conversion and Munster ‘A’ led 22-12.
It took just three minutes for the Eagles to respond as Leader scored his second try with Jack Carty kicking the conversion to reduce Munster’s advantage to just three.
Ryan Murphy was sin-binned for an off-the-ball incident before Barry O’Mahony scored his second try with Rory Scannell converting as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
But the visitors responded yet again as the excellent Leader completed his hat-trick and Carty landed a superb touchline conversion.
Scannell put some daylight between the sides with his first penalty on 70 minutes and the Munster ‘A’ defence held strong for the final ten minutes to secure a hard-earned success at Garryowen FC.
Next up for Malone’s charges is the crucial British & Irish Cup quarter-final against Leinster ‘A’ at Donnybrook on Friday, April 4 (kick-off 7pm).
MUNSTER ‘A’: Ronan O’Mahony; Darren Sweetnam, Ivan Dineen, Cian Bohane, Luke O’Dea; Johnny Holland, Brian Haugh; Peter McCabe, Quentin MacDonald, Brian Scott, Billy Holland, Darren O’Shea, Shane Buckley, Barry O’Mahony (capt), Paddy Butler.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Ger Sweeney, Mike Lynch, Darragh Moloney, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Foley, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton, Niall Kenneally, Harry McNulty, Darren Moroney, David Johnston.
CONNACHT EAGLES: Gavin Duffy (capt); Danie Poolman, Conor Finn, Darragh Leader, Matt Healy; Miah Nikora, Frank Murphy; Ronan Loughney, Jack Dineen, Nathan White, Aly Muldowney, George Naoupu, Mata Fifita, Conor Gilsenan, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Conor Muldoon, Finlay Bealham, JP Cooney, David Nolan, Aaron Conneely, Marcus Walsh, Jack Carty, Rory Parata, Shane Layden.