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07th Apr 2024

End of the road for Munster, as some of their men play final Champions Cup game

Patrick McCarry



Peter O’Mahony may have played his last European Cup game for Munster as his side were knocked out of the Champions Cup at the Last 16 stage.

The Ireland captain is mulling over his playing future and has still not signed a new contract for next season. He left the pitch midway through the second half and went straight down the tunnel, at Franklin’s Gardens.

Munster stayed in the fight for an hour but a George Hendy double did for their Champions Cup hopes as Northampton marched on. They will face Bulls in the quarter finals.

Saints drew first blood after nine minutes when James Ramm burst through after a period of intense pressure. Munster answered back through Sean O’Brien, who was only drafted into the starting XV late, after Shane Daly was ruled out with an injury.

The two-time European champions were not done yet, as Mike Haley dived over after a flowing attacking move (below). The first half saw Saints land 127 defensive tackles to 55 from Munster – showing how the men in red were pressing the attack for long stretches.

When called upon to defend, though, Munster were indebted to big turnover plays from Tadhg Beirne, Jeremy Loughman and, near his own tryline, Gavin Coombes.


Munster fade away after the break

The second half was played at a slightly less frantic pace, as both sides made attacking thrusts without that same break-neck energy.

Tadhg Beirne made another big turnover, inside his half, but injury-hit Munster were starting to flag and get set back by some handling errors.

Then, in the space of 12 costly minutes, George Hendy raced over for two tries that left Simon Zebo and Jack Crowley flailing, then crestfallen. Fin Smith missed both conversions and a penalty, during that period, to give Munster faint hope.

Tadhg Beirne then spilled possession under the shadow of the Northampton posts and the Munster miracle trailed off. When Saints won a penalty from the resulting scrum, it was all she wrote.

That could be it for the likes of Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo, while RG Snyman and Joey Carbery are definitely moving on, and Antoine Frisch may follow.

Following the game, Graham Rowntree confirmed there had been a bug in the Munster camp, midweek. Both Beirne and Craig Casey appeared to be in a bad way, during the Last 16 encounter.


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