RESILIENT Munster put their indifferent pre-season form behind them to record a highly encouraging 23-18 victory over an experienced Edinburgh side in their RaboDirect PRO12 opener at Murrayfield on Saturday.
A smashing second half try from exciting Shannon winger Luke O’Dea, coupled with an 18-point display from Ian Keatley, ensured the Rob Penney era at Munster began with a victory. The sides had been level, 10-10, at half-time.
It was all hands to the pump as Munster showed true grit in the dying minutes to resist sustained Edinburgh pressure and emerge as worthy winners at the end of an entertaining tussle.
More of the same against Benetton Treviso at Thomond Park on Friday night (8pm) would be just the tonic before the province’s leading internationals come back into consideration for the round three tie with Ulster at Ravenhill on the following weekend.
Saturday’s fixture was a memorable one for Limerick flanker, Barry O’Mahony who made his full senior debut for the province after being introduced as a second half replacement.
The 25-year-old has re-joined Munster on a development contract this season, having previously spent three years in the province’s academy before being released. The dynamic O’Mahony has found his way back into the full Munster side via the AIL and province’s ‘A’ team.
Munster number eight James Coughlan said while the squad was delighted with the nature of the victory, he hoped it was just the start of where they wanted to go.
“I was very proud of that performance. Every inside the dressing room is delighted with it,” Coughlan enthused.
“We had to dig in for the last 10 minutes. We got through what we wanted to get through. It worked well and I thought we played some lovely rugby at times. It was a fantastic way to start the competitive season.
“We have been trying hard, training really hard. This is not a one week or two week thing. We have been three months at it now. Obviously, it is brilliant when it comes off and it was great that the weather allowed us try that.
“I thought the forwards dug in really well towards the end of the second half. We were able to grind it out. Overall, we are absolutely delighted. That is exactly the start we wanted.
“Our conditioning staff has us in great shape. Great credit is due to them. It is an attitude then from there. You just have to put yourself in the right position. Thankfully tonight we were able to do it. So hopefully now this is the beginning of where we want to go and just the start so we can take it on another step next Friday against Treviso.”
EDINBURGH – Greig Tonks; Lee Jones, Nick De Luca, Ben Atiga, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw (capt), Richie Rees; John Yapp, Ross Ford, Willem Nel; Grant Gilchrist, Sean Cox; David Denton, Ross Rennie, Stuart McInally.
Replacements: Allan Jacobsen for Yapp, Geoff Cross for Nel (both 52 mins), Chris Leck for Rees, Andy Titterrell for Ford, Dimitri Basilaia for McInally (all 64 mins), Perry Parker for Gilchrist (69 mins).
MUNSTER – Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett (capt), Casey Laulala, James Downey, Luke O’Dea; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, Billy Holland, Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall, James Coughlan.
Replacements: M Sherry for Varley (52 mins), Dave Kilcoyne for du Preez (58 mins), Ivan Dineen for Laulala, Dave Foley for Butler (both 65 mins), Barry O’Mahony for Dougall (72 mins), Peter Stringer for Williams (73 mins), Scott Deasy for Hurley (74 mins).
REFEREE – Leighton Hodges (Wales)