THE advent of the All-Ireland League at the start of the 1990s fundamentally changed the face of Irish club rugby.
Young Munster initially began life in Division 2, with Michael Benson’s dramatic drop goal securing their place in the second tier after a play-off with Highfield in Cork.
Munsters’ duly secured promotion to the top Division at the first time of asking, keen to show their Limerick, Cork and Dublin rivals that they were worthy of their place at the top table in the club game.
Following a season of consolidation in the top flight, Munsters’ band of brothers were primed for an assault on the top prize in club rugby as the 1992-1993 campaign dawned.
Munsters’ win over inaugural AIL winners Cork Constitution and the then unbeaten League leaders at Temple Hill is widely regarded as a hugely significant day in their march to ultimate AIL glory.
On a filthy wet and windy day, Munsters’ trailed by four points deep in the final quarter, but were battering away at the Con line.
However, a late try for the visitors changed the complexion of the game, the Greenfields side were now well placed to challenge for league honours.
How bout this pic.twitter.com/8TpvJYuj8X— youngmunsterman (@youngmunstersfa) November 26, 2017
Tony Grant’s Young Munster side followed up on their win over Cork Con by downing Garryowen 13-6.
On the same afternoon Con crashed at home to St Mary’s. Munsters and the Saints would meet in a winner take all fixture on the final day of the season in Dublin.
Well, not quite winner-take-all, a draw would do for St Mary’s to lift the title. The game was moved from St Mary’s Templeville Road ground to Lansdowne Road to cater for the enormous crowd wishing to see it.
In front of the largest attendance to ever watch a club game, 17,000, Munsters took the field.
They lost team captain Ger Clohessy to a niggling hamstring injury in the opening minutes. However, the Limerick side held their composure and led 6-3 when centre Francis Brosnihan was floored by a blow from St Mary’s Kiwi number eight, Brent Pope.
Pope was duly sent off by match referee Dave McHugh. Despite Munsters’ having a one-man advantage, the sides were tied 14-14. with six minutes remaining. Then referee McHugh awarded a penalty to the Greenfields side, 40 metres from goal, but into the wind.
Aidan O’Halloran struck the ball sweetly between the uprights and Munsters’ were within touching distance of victory at 17-14.
The final whistle sounded soon after and thousands of Young Munster supporters flooded onto the field to acclaim their heroes. The ghost of 1928 when Young Munster were last crowned national champions by winning the Bateman Cup was finally laid to rest.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Ger McNamara; Niall McNamara, Noel O'Meara, Francis Brosnihan (Michael Benson), James McNamara; Aidan O'Halloran, Derek Tobin; John Fitzgerald, Mark Fitzgerald, Peter Clohessy, Peter Meehan, Ray Ryan, Ger Clohessy (Capt), (Derek Mullane 4), Declan Edwards, Ger Earls.