20/10/04 - The top 10 Munster victories - Sunday Times
The top 10 Munster victories
1 33-6 v Gloucester, Jan 2003 Munster needed to beat the English Premiership leaders by at least 27 points at Thomond Park — and score four tries in the process — to qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Tries from Mossie Lawlor, John Kelly and Mick O’Driscoll put the foundations in place, and when Kelly crossed the line again in injury time, four tries and a 25-point lead had been racked up. Had Ronan O’Gara not converted, it would have been a glorious sporting failure and not Munster’s greatest ever victory.
2 12-0 v New Zealand, Oct 1978 Beating the All Blacks only at number two? A marginal decision, but on that Hallowe’en afternoon at Thomond Park, Munster had absolutely nothing to lose; against Gloucester they had to perform. A Christy Cantillon try allied to a conversion and two drop goals from out-half Tony Ward gave Munster a famous win over the world’s most fearsome side.
3 31-25 v Toulouse, Apr 2000 Munster weren’t given a prayer before this semi-final in Bordeaux, but in a ferociously unremitting encounter they held a slight edge. Just when it looked as though it would go to the death, up popped Jason Holland. As Toulouse ran the ball from left to right, Holland stole a decisive intercept to jig unopposed to the line with at least five of his beaming teammates — and none of the opposition — for company.
4 22-19 v Australia, Oct 1992 So many talking points. In a fractious opening quarter, both Mick Galwey and Australia’s Garrick Morgan were dismissed for mud-wrestling following a 30-man brawl. Munster kept in touch with the world champions throughout and with the game entering injury time the sides were level, 19-19. Cue Jim Galvin. The Shannon man had come on as a substitute and with time almost up, he caressed a 35-yard drop goal between the posts. Aussie coach Bob Dwyer had a right go at Peter Clohessy afterwards, but it didn’t take away from the achievement.
5 20-7 v Leicester, Apr 2003 Neil’s Back-hander. Martin Johnson’s snub to protocol. Austin Healy’s mouth. The pain of Cardiff defeat. Put them all together and you get powerful motivation. Leicester were outbattled, outthought and ultimately outscored at home.
6 35-34 v Saracens, Nov 1999 Munster had only won away in Italy in the Heineken Cup before this, but they broke their duck in what would become true last-ditch Munster style. Trailing 34-23 with 10 minutes left, a last-ditch Jeremy Staunton try, converted by O’Gara, gave them the narrowest of victories.
7 11-8 v Australia, Jan 1967 The first win by an Irish province over an international side, but this Australia team were hardly of classic vintage. Over the years, Munster had pushed touring South African, New Zealand and Australian sides to the brink without finishing the job, but at a packed Musgrave Park they climbed the final hurdle. John Moroney scored a first-half try with Tom Kiernan kicking the rest of the points.
8 16-14 v Stade Français, Jan 2002 They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and this day in Paris could hardly have been chillier. After their controversial semi-final defeat by Stade the previous year, Munster had an incentive. They took a 16-3 interval lead — with the help of a superb Anthony Horgan try — and although they failed to score in the second period, some remarkable defence and discipline saw them through.
9 31-15 v Colomiers, Dec 1999 Another momentous match; the first win on French soil by an Irish province. Uncharacteristically, Munster controlled things from start to finish, scoring four superb tries. Attitude, Discipline and Aggression were the words printed on the walls of the Munster dressing-room beforehand — a motto they have stuck by since.
10 49-22 v Wasps, Oct 1996 This was Munster’s first real taste of slaying an English giant, and they loved it. As the rain poured down in Limerick, they ran in tries from all areas of the pitch to leave the English champions in a state of shock. Pick of the bunch was a poacher’s effort from Richard Wallace, who intercepted the ball inside his own 22 and galloped unhindered to touch down at the opposite end.
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