Connacht give John Muldoon perfect farewell by absolutely hammering Leinster
CONNACHT 47-10 LEINSTER
Their season is over a few weeks earlier than they would have liked but at least Connacht can reflect on Sportsground victories over Munster, Ulster and now Leinster. John Muldoon can reflect on a great career and a 100% goal-kicking record!
Rugby fans from the west converged on the Galway dog-track to bid farewell to 2017/18 and club legend, and captain, John Muldoon.
Leinster rested many of the stars that have helped them reach the Champions Cup final but still travelled west with eight Grand Slam winners in their 23. By 42 minutes, Connacht had secured the try-scoring bonus point and Leinster knew the jig was up.
Connacht got it going early on after a Shane Delahunt line break had the Leinster defence scrambling. A few phases by the forwards and the ball was spun wide right. James Lowe made an all-or-nothing tackle attempt by shooting out of the line. Lowe ended up with nothing while Niyi Adeolokun helped himself to five points. Jack Carty converted to make it 7-0.
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) April 28, 2018
Big Muldoon got the home crowd going after a leg-pumping carry, 10 minutes in, took his side up to the halfway line.
Leinster snapped back and the hosts were pinged for a breakdown infringement. As green and blue bodies rolled away, a male voice from the Clan Terrace cried out, "How could you give a penalty against Mul today?!"
That drew a big laugh and the fact that it was actually Eoin McKeon that conceded the penalty was neither here nor there.
Joey Carbery was playing fullback but he was tasked with the goal-kicking duties ahead of the other potential 2018/19 Ulster outhalf Ross Byrne. Carbery landed his first penalty but was wide left with his second attempt.
By hook, crook and sheer, bloody-minded effort, Connacht survived 10 mins of Leinster pressure before releasing the valve with a scrum penalty followed by a turnover won by lock Gavin Thornbury. Leinster won possession back after a sloppy lineout but Tiernan O'Halloran pressed right up and picked off a hazy James Lowe pass to race free and score under the posts.
The westerners were not done yet as the excellent Delahunt made another great break and Kieran Marmion followed up to squirrel over the Leinster tryline. Carty converted again and Connacht led 21-3 at the break.
The second half was more of the painful same for Leinster.
Delahunt was on fire and he started the move for the fourth try when he ripped possession off Max Deegan then showed up on the right wing, 20 seconds later, to set up Adeolokun with the sweetest offload Galway may have ever seen:
😯 That offload 😯
A fine move from @Connachtrugby brings up the bonus-point. A sensational pass from Shane Delahunt finds @UncleNiyisy for his second of the afternoon 🔥#GUINNESSPRO14 #CONvLEI
📺 Catch this one right now on @SportTG4📺 pic.twitter.com/SenZpmolGD
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) April 28, 2018
Carty missed the conversion but more than made up for that with a beautiful chip over the Leinster line. O'Halloran caught it, at full belt, and found Marmion on his left shoulder in support. Easy pass, easy score, lovely move.
Leinster showed they still had pulses, on 55 minutes, when Barry Daly sprinted up the right wing and Carbery converted to get them into double figures.
But on Connacht came, determined to end on a high. Bundee Aki could have teed up Adeolokun for his hat-trick but backed himself and scored in the corner and Craig Ronaldson converted to make it 40-10.
It was 47-10 before the end as Caolán Blade sniped over and Muldoon stepped up to kick the final conversion.
What a way to bow out, for Muldoon and Connacht.