MUNSTER may be underdogs in Saturday’s make-or-break European Champions Cup clash with Saracens at Allianz Park (1pm), but the province can take plenty of heart from some heroic previous away wins in England.
Below, the Limerick Leader recalls five of Munster’s most famous European Cup wins achieved across the Irish Sea.
NOVEMBER 28, 1999
Saracens 34 Munster 35
Munster travelled to Vicarage Road to face a Saracens side which consisted of the likes of Thierry Lacroix and World Cup winning skipper Francois Pienaar.
The two sides were neck and neck throughout, but Jeremy Staunton stole the show crossing late on to make the score 34-33 and bring Munster within a point of Saracens. Ronan O’Gara nailed the conversion and Munster held off a late charge from Sarries to secure a 35-34 win before an attendance of 4,000.
The Munster squad gathered together in front of the main stand and in unison with the massive Irish support gave a stirring rendition of ‘Stand up and fight.’
SARACENS: Mark Mapletoft; Ryan Constable, Jeremy Thomson, Kevin Sorrell, Rob Thirlby; Thierry Lacroix, Nick Walshe; Robert Grau, George Chuter, Julian White, Tony Grewcock, Scott Murray, Richard Hill, Francois Pienaar, Tony Diprose. Replacements: Kris Chesney for Murray, Philip Ogilvie for Hill (both 55), David Flatman for Grau (60), Paul Wallace for White (62).
MUNSTER: Jeremy Staunton; John Kelly, Killian Keane, Mike Mullins, Anthony Horgan , Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Peter Clohessy, Keith Wood, John Hayes, Mick Galwey, John Langford, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Anthony Foley
APRIL 13, 2003
Leicester 7 Munster 20
Munster ended Leicester’s two-year reign as Heineken Cup champions with a stunning performance in their quarter-final showdown at Welford Road
A capacity crowd of 17,500 packed into Welford Road to watch the repeat of the 2002 final, and they witnessed a spectacular clash of the Euro titans.
By half-time it was only O’Gara’s third-minute penalty goal which separated the two sides.
O’Gara hit the mark again 10 mintues into the second-half, but Leicester’s hopes of making it a hat-trick of Heineken Cup titles were given a huge boost midway through the second-half when Geordan Murphy cut through the Munster set-up fellow wing Steve Booth for the game’s first try.
Stimpson added the conversion, his first successful kick after three earlier penalty misses, and Leicester were ahead for the first time.
But Munster were in no mood to be denied. O’Gara crossed for try which he also converted seven minutes after Leicester had taken the lead, and then five minutes from the end of normal time, his half-back partner Peter Stringer rounded off a free-flowing move for a try which O’Gara converted to make victory complete.
LEICESTER TIGERS: Tim Stimpson; Geordan Murphy, Leon Lloyd, Freddie Tuilagi (G Gelderbloom), Steve Booth; Austin Healey (S Vesty 67), Tom Tierney (Harry Ellis, 57); Perry Freshwater, Dorian West (G Chuter), Darren Garforth, Martin Johnson (capt), Ben Kay (Josh Kronfeld 61), Martin Corry, Neil Back, Will Johnson (Adam Balding 48).
MUNSTER: Jeremy Staunton; John Kelly, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson (Jason Holland 78), Anthony Horgan; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (Mick O’Driscoll, 69), Jim Williams (capt), Alan Quinlan, Aanthony Foley Replacements; Simon Kerr, James Blaney, Mick O’Driscoll, Denis Leamy, Denis Malone, Dominic Crotty
OCTOBER 22, 2006
Leicester 19 Munster 21
Ronan O’Gara’s late penalty snatched victory for champions Munster in a pulsating Heineken Cup tie with Leicester at a wet Welford Road.
Leicester had fought back from a nine-point deficit with a converted penalty try and a penalty to lead for the first time before O’Gara struck.
The Tigers, dominant in the line-out, were ultimately sunk by indiscipline.
But Munster were smarter and took their chances, with first-half tries from Donnacha O’Callaghan and David Wallace.
Munster led 15-6 at half-time, but Tigers’ rally took them to 19-18 with five minutes left before O’Gara’s winning kick from the halfway line in lashing rain.
Munster: Shaun Payne; John Kelly, Barry Murphy, Trevor Halstead, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Marcus Horan, Frankie Sheahan, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell (capt), Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Anthony Foley. Replacements: Alan Quinlan for Foley (51 mins), Federico Pucciariello for Hayes (70 mins), Lifeimi Mafi for Murphy (80 mins).
Leicester Tigers: Sam Vesty; Johne Murphy, Ollie Smith, Daryl Gibson, Tom Varndell; Paul Burke, Scott Bemand; Marcos Ayerza, George Chuter, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leo Cullen, Ben Kay, Louis Deacon, Lewis Moody, Martin Corry (capt). Replacements: Andy Goode for Burke (half-time), Julian White for Ayerza (51 mins), Harry Ellis for Bemand (54 mins), Shane Jennings for Moody (61 mins), Seru Rabeni for Gibson (72 mins).
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
APRIL 7, 2013
Harlequins 12 Munster 18
Ronan O’Gara kicked all the points as a defiant Munster overpowered Harlequins 18-12 at the Stoop to book a Heineken Cup semi-final against Clermont Auvergne.
The two-time European champions produced a devastating second-half performance, led by captain Paul O’Connell and their dominant back row, to kill off any hopes Harlequins had of a famous victory.
Harlequins had led 9-6 at the interval, courtesy of three Nick Evans penalties, but they were hit by a ferocious Munster onslaught in the second period.
O’Gara, back at the venue of his first Heineken Cup match 14 years ago, kicked four penalties in a devastating 16-minute spell that Munster spent camped in Harlequins territory.
Munster conceded 50 points to Glasgow in the RaboDirect PRO12 last weekend but displayed all their European pedigree to down the English champions and reach a remarkable 10th Heineken Cup semi-final.
There were plenty of performances that will have caught the eye of Lions coach Warren Gatland, particularly O’Connell’s towering display.
This was Harlequins’ first Heineken Cup quarter-final since the Bloodgate scandal erupted at the same stage of the competition four years ago.
If the score was tight at half-time, it was Munster who increasingly had the most influential players and that told in the 16 decisive minutes after the interval.
O’Gara kicked four penalties in that time as Munster, playing with much greater urgency, dominated possession and took a match-winning grip on the game. It was a grip they would not relinquish.
Harlequins: Mike Brown; Tom Williams, George Lowe, Tom Casson, Ugo Monye; Nick Evans, Danny Care; Joe Marler, Rob Buchanan, James Johnston, Olly Kohn, George Robson, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Chris Robshaw (capt), Nick Easter. Replacements: Joe Gray, Mark Lambert, Will Collier, Charlie Matthews, Tom Guest, Karl Dickson, Ben Botica, Matt Hopper.
Munster: Felix Jones, Denis Hurley, Casey Laulala, James Downey, Simon Zebo, RonanO’Gara, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan. Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Stephen Archer, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paddy Butler, Cathal Sheridan,
Ian Keatley, Ivan Dineen.
JANUARY 21, 2012
Northampton 36 Munster 51
Munster saved their best for last in Pool 1 as they hit last season’s Heineken Cup finalists Northampton with a record score of 51 points to guarantee a home quarter-final.
Simon Zebo raced over for a hat-trick of tries to provide the perfect ending to a week in which he was invited to train with the Ireland Six Nations squad, and Ronan O’Gara kicked 24 points as the two-times winners saved their best for last.
They notched their first bonus point of the campaign as they made it six out of six for the first time in their European history. Having clinched the Pool the previous weekend, this game at stadium:mk was all about securing a home draw. They did that and more to stun their hosts .
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS: Ben Foden; Jamie Elliott (S Armstrong 68), George Pisi, James Downey, Vas Artemyev; Ryan Lamb (Stephen Myler 73), Lee Dickson (Martin Roberts 73); Soane Tonga’uiha (Alex Waller 66), Dylan Hartley (capt), Brian Mujati (Paul Doran-Jones 66), Samui Manoa, Mark Sorenson (Christian Day 62), Callum Clark (Ben Nutley 62), Phil Dowson, Roger Wilson.
MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi (Danny Barnes), Simon Zebo; Ronan O’Gara (Ian Keatley 73), Conor Murray (Tomas O’Leary 67); Wian du Preez (Marcus Horan, 56), Damien Varley (Denis Fogarty, 75), BJ Botha (Stephen Archer, 74), Donncha O’Callaghan (Mick O’Driscoll 73), Paul O’Connell (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Peter O’Mahony (Dave O’Callaghan 73), James Coughlan.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)