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Prendergast Guides Munsters To Narrow Win

Prendergast Guides Munsters To Narrow Win

Young Munster, 20 years after their only previous Ulster Bank League title success, kept up the pressure on the front runners with a hard-earned win over Dolphin at Tom Clifford Park.

There was no love lost between the respective packs who revelled in what was a bruising encounter, but none of the forwards were yellow carded.

Young Munster went in front after 24 minutes when the Cork side were penalised for a lineout infringement and penalty taker Brian Haugh opened the scoring.

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Six minutes later the home supporters greeted a sweetly-taken drop goal by Mike Prendergast, Munsters' director of rugby and man-of-the-match who donned the number 10 shirt alongside Haugh.

The 35-metre strike from Prendergast was a vital addition to the Cookies' tally in the end, although the former Munster scrum half said the kick was 'a pure fluke' after the game.

He was deadly accurate though in a number of facets of play, driving his side forward with some clever tactical kicking and his passing was as crisp and incisive as ever.

Eight minutes before the interval Dolphin got on the scoresheet when experienced out-half Barry Keeshan kicked a penalty after Young Munster had failed to roll away.

The first try arrived in the 53rd minute. Persistent Young Munster pressure saw a number of players held close in before the ball was worked to centre Mark Doyle who got over sufficiently close to allow Haugh add the conversion.

Dolphin were reduced to 14 players when their full-back Eamonn Mills was sin-binned for a leg trip on Darragh O'Neill.

Dolphin were given a slight glimmer of hope with centre duo Harry Fleming and Cian Bohane threatening late on and that pressure eventually told in the 83rd minute.

A stray pass was intercepted by flanker Miah Cronin who raced in under the posts. To expedite matters for his side Keeshan drop-kicked the conversion, but time ran out on the visitors.

The victory has moved the Cookies into second place in Division 1A, and they have a game in hand on leaders Lansdowne who are currently 10 points clear at the summit.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader, Prendergast said: “Barring the late try Dolphin managed, our defence stood up really well. Up to then we had only conceded three points.

“We have the best defence in the league. That comes down to an honesty and a work-rate, which is big in this team and big in this club. It is another four points and we will look forward to next week.”

He added: “Last season, we were leading the league going into the New Year. It was something we probably weren’t used to, not since the days of 1993.

“To be tucked in behind (in second place) is nice. Not as many people are talking about you. The pressure isn’t on as much. There are a lot of new lads there. We lost eight players from last year. The new lads have fitted in well.

“We lived off slow ball in the first half. At the start of the second half, we found our way into the game. In the 20 minutes after that, we played with good tempo, a lot of quick ball, played with width, did some damage and got a try from it.”

Referee: Nigel Correll (IRFU)