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24th Aug 2020

“That was the correct call for us” – Peter O’Mahony stands by Munster’s end-game decision

Patrick McCarry


“We’re absolutely gutted about that.”

Munster head coach Johann Van Graan cut a solemn figure after his side’s 27-25 loss to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium, on Saturday. Munster left the sparsely populated Lansdowne Road venue with a losing point and four additions to their injury list.

RG Snyman’s knee injury looked “serious” to his coach and both Dave Kilcoyne [ankle] and Jean Kleyn [neck] left the fray during the game. Loosehead James Cronin was pulled from the lineout, for Kilcoyne, with an hour before kick-off.

With no fans in attendance for the resumption of professional, and Guinness PRO14, rugby on these shores, two of the strangest moments arrived at the beginning and end of the match.

As the nominative ‘away’ side, Munster took to the field first and with no music ringing out or cheers of encouragement from the stands. There were two or three awkward claps from match stewards and some awkward chuckles from the press area. After almost six months away, it was an odd way for these giants of Irish rugby to re-take the stage.

The end of the match was aloof and unsatisfying. Munster had worked their way into the Leinster half in the hopes of fashioning a late scoring chance to seal a come-from-behind win. Devin Toner pounced to intercept a JJ Hanrahan inside pass, Rhys Marshall had a knock-on and that was almost that.

Munster were left with a lineout some 10 metres from their own tryline and when they secured possession, scrumhalf Craig Casey got the holler to kick the ball out. They would not be going for any late heroics. After such an entertaining game, even without fans in attendance, it was a particular damp squib to end the game on.

Leinster’s Ryan Baird feels the squeeze in the midst of a Munster maul. (Credit: Sportsfile)

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen later commented, “I was curious to see Munster taking the losing point at the end.” Having been involved in so many tough inter-pro battles over the years (as player then coach), Cullen was perhaps expecting Munster to at least go through a few phases to see if they could break out of their 22 at least.

Van Graan says the decision to accept defeat and take the losing bonus point, which pus them on 46 points and four clear of third-placed Scarlets, would be reviewed on Monday. Munster captain Peter O’Mahony believes it was the proper course of action.

“That was the call [to Casey]. A bonus point is important.

“We had just turned over the ball, but a lot of guys had gone 80 minutes, a lot of guys were out of position. So that was the correct call for us.

“There’s aspects that are very pleasing. We stayed in the fight. It’s a tough place to come and play. 11 down and we came within a kickable penalty. Every time we come to play here it was a serious battle, but we certainly were in the mix there.”

In the mix but outdone at the Aviva Stadium again. With Scarlets playing Dragons 24 hours before, Munster will know what needs to be done when they face Connacht at the same venue next Sunday.

Win, draw or secure another losing point and it will be Leinster again, in Dublin. They have kept some powder dry.