Right. We’re off to Thomond Park for the Munster-Ulster game.
Not much to say right now. Tension is building and of course, the supporters have been packing the pubs since 10:30 this morning in their boundless dedication to the Munster cause. They know that early kick-offs are a curse. They know the atmosphere is never the same when the crowd is totally sober and that’s why they give their all by pouring as many pints down their neck as they can before the match.
I won’t be doing that, although I might have a little libation after the game, depending on how it turns out. Ulster are a formidable outfit these days and although I think Munster have what it takes to beat them, there are no guarantees. They won’t care a jot about all this talk of Fortress Thomond, so for now, I’ll just hold my peace. It’s time to get on the move.
Back later with some reactions for good or ill.
Oh God. What can I possibly say about that without making you want to poke your eyeballs out? I took no pictures of the game because it was too depressing. Bah!
Munster lost 16-22 at Thomond Park to a team that outplayed them. There’s no getting away from it, and instead of concentrating on Roman Poite’s abysmal refereeing which, after all, is pretty much a given, we need to look closer to home.
Why did the forwards hang back so much?
Why was Conor Murray’s delivery so slow?
Why was Keith Earls allowed to remain on the field when he was clearly too injured to play?
All of these things look like management issues. I can’t help feeling that McGahan got the game plan wrong, that he was afraid of Ulster’s big, fast second row and that he set up the entire strategy to counter any threat they might pose, but if that was his plan, it didn’t work.
Half an hour into this game we were 19 points down, and against a team of Ulster’s quality, it was never likely we’d bridge the gap, but Munster slugged it out, scoring a converted try and a penalty to bring the sides within nine points of each other at the break. Shouting distance.
Why they couldn’t press on and narrow it further I don’t know, but I can tell you there was no sign of the big men coming up in support at the breakdown. That has to be coming from management and Conor Murray’s uncharacteristic slowness must have been due to orders from above. After all, he was replaced by Tomás O Leary, a scrum-half whose clock runs on geological time.
Good luck to Ulster. I wish them well.
As someone said after the match, I’d rather be beaten by them than by Leinster, but I still didn’t want to be walking out of Thomond Park past these lads.