Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 19 April 2015

Munster devour Ospreys in style

Munster 43 Ospreys 9

The joy on Paul O’Connell’s face is plain to see after scoring a try for Munster in their one-sided Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over the Ospreys at Thomond Park
The joy on Paul O’Connell’s face is plain to see after scoring a try for Munster in their one-sided Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over the Ospreys at Thomond Park

If Warren Gatland thought that the Welsh disliked the Irish three weeks ago, you wonder what they think now after this ritual slaughter of the wannabe upstarts from West Wales.

The context is critical. A quarter-final of the Heineken Cup, against a team with all but one of their number either former All Blacks or Grand Slammers — it surely ranks right up there as one of Munster’s most complete performances in the professional era.

Like a batsman nonchalantly reaching his century with a dismissive swat to the boundary, so too Munster racked up their ton of appearances in this competition with their most destructive, ruthless display, easily outstripping their previous record quarterfinal victory, 29-10 against Colomiers nine years ago.

A week after witnessing Kilkenny re-affirming their status as the greatest intercounty hurling outfit, seven days later Munster chose their spiritual home to record their own demonstration of pure perfection for the 26,500 privileged witnesses.

As Lions coaches Warren Gatland and Rob Howley departed with furrowed brows at another setback for the Welsh at Irish hands this season, no wonder Munster coach Tony McGahan hummed at the wonder of a glorious sporting occasion.

“It’s a long holiday, it’s a Sunday and there's no work tomorrow,” he enthused.

“It’s Easter Sunday, sunshine, a full house, it’s all those things — and a Munster side that was playing good rugby.

“It all adds up to a wonderful day and I’m thankful to the supporters and I really hope they enjoyed their day.”

As for the Ospreys, they wandered into the post-match inquisition as dazed and confused as their players had appeared to be all afternoon during the lengthy and gruesome execution.

“The only thing I can say is that today we were taught a lot of lessons and came second best in every facet of the game, both on and off the field,” muttered Sean Holley.

“We’ve been well beaten by a champion team.

“We have to give them a lot of credit. We’re very disappointed. It’s been a very painful experience.”

Not for Munster though. Initially unnerved by the Ospreys line speed in defence, which forced some unnecessary errors, Munster gradually wore down their opponents with some intensive defensive work themselves, led by the incredibly aggressive Lifeimi Mafi.

McGahan said the scoreline flattered them and, typically, spoke of correcting a few errors against Connacht. Such single-mindedness will drive this team on, Ronan O’Gara’s reference to some of his ageing colleagues’ determination to win more medals hinting at the desire still coursing through this side.

Like old man river, they just keep rolling along. Who can stop them?

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