Original match report from AIDAN CORR
Young Munster. 47 Belfast Harlequins 18
MISSION accomplished Young Munster duly disposed of their Belfast visitors at a well-attended and sun drenched Tom Clifford Park last Saturday, running in six splendid tries in the process and hinting that a repeat of their 1993 title success is not just a pipe dream
What will be of most encouragement to 'Munsters' is that it was their 'voung guns' who paved the way for this impiessive victory
A brace of tries each for Finbar Hogan and replacement Jason Rose, another from the outstanding Kieran Gallagher, and a thundering score from Paul O'Connell to mark his Munster contract, proved the benefit of the club's youth policy.
Now the black and amber cavalcade will make plans for the invasion of Cork on Saturday next 'Constitution' will not relish the thought of facing a Young Munster side that has now chalked up 89 points in six days. On Saturday's display, the Greenfield's side has a settled look about it and they will go into the All-Ireland League semi-final fully confident of causing an upset.
Harlequins came to Limerick last Saturday with only a strand of hope. In fairness to them, they fought right to the finish but the result was never really in doubt
They were under pressure from the start and when full-back Morrow hit the upright with an attempted clearance from behind his own line, gifting a five metre scrum to 'Munsters,' the trend of the game was set.
It took the home side just five minutes to cross for the first try of the game Lynch kicked into the corner from a penalty, Paul O'Connell tapped down in a well-planned move and Kieran Gallagher burrowed through the driving pack for the touchdown. Lynch was wide with the conversion
A Niall Malone penalty on eight minutes made it 5-3 and further penalties from Lynch and Malone made it 86 after 15 minutes Harlequins had their best period of the game after this score but Malone kicked dead, allowing 'Munsters' a put-in on their own ten metre line. Lynch was given acres of space from the feed, his kick into space was perfect for the chasing Mark Connolly and when Finbar Hogan took the pass in space he raced all the way to the posts for a fine try which Lynch converted.
Lynch and Malone were wide with penalty attempts but the Young Munster out-half was on target on 33 minutes when Harlequins were penalised for playing the ball on the ground in a ruck. Leading 18-6 going into the second half, and aided by the breeze, the home side looked comfortable. T'Pau went past two weak tackles after he took the ball from the base of scrum on 50 minutes, Mark Connolly carried on the move and slipped a lovely reverse pass to Finbarr Hogan who went in under the posts to make Lynch's conversion a formality. The Belfast side rallied and 'Munsters' were guilty of some serious carelessness to allow Kevin Rabie in for a try which Niall Malone failed to convert, to bring the score to 25-11, after 54 minutes. It took 'Munsters' just three minutes to respond. Lynch lofted a mighty up and under, full-back Morrow allowed the ball to bounce over his head and when it cruelly changed direction towards the chasing home players, Jason Rose sailed in unopposed Lynch converted to make the score 32-11.
Clem Casey made a wonderful saving tackle on Sheldon Coulter when a try looked likely for the Belfast side but 'Munsters' tagged on fifteen more points before the final whistle.
Mick Lynch popped over a penalty on 60 minutes when Harlequins went offside in front of their own posts and with ten minutes to play, the outstanding Paul O'Connell charged over when well placed by Mark Connolly to raise the biggest cheer of the afternoon. Lynch converted to make it 42-11. 'Munsters' kept up the pressure and Jason Rose made a strong challenge for selection the following Saturday when he crashed over for his second try of the afternoon almost on the stroke of time.
In between, Belfast Harlequins pulled seven points back when after good work by left winger, Lowe, fullback Robin Morrow forced his way over for a try which Niall Malone converted on 74 minutes. Reaching the last four is a terrific achievement by Young Munster and they will now proudly represent the city next Saturday at Templehill. Kick-off time has yet to be announced.
Young Munster — Mark Connolly; Finbarr Hogan, Leo Doyle (D _O'Sullivan 75), Mike Mullins, Clem Casey; Mick Lynch, Mike Prendergast (D Reddan 76); Peter Clohessy, Bevan Cantrell (T Lane 75), M Fitzgerald (R Flanagan 751. P O'Connell, D Peters, M _T'Pau (H O'Neill 61), K Gallagher, M Ngarima (J Rose 54).