Conor Murray returned to action for Munster against Connacht at Thomond Park
MUNSTER secured a Guinness Pro12 semi-final showdown with Ospreys at Thomond Park later this month after thumping local rivals Connacht 50-14 in their final regular season fixture on Saturday evening.
The bonus point win, lit up by seven tries in all, saw Munster finish as top seeds in the Pro12 table and as a result book a last four clash with fourth seeds Ospreys on Saturday, May 20 at Thomond Park, 6.15pm.
Second seeds Leinster will entertain Scarlets in the first of the semi-finals on the previous day.
As well as taking confidence from the clinical nature of this display, Munster were boosted by the welcome return from a shoulder injury by international scrum-half Conor Murray.
Murray came off the bench to play the final half an hour of the game, his first taste of competitive match action since he sustained that shoulder injury while playing for Ireland against Wales in the RBS 6 Nations in Cardiff in mid-March.
Munster were well on their way to victory when leading a disappointing Connacht side 24-0 at half-time, with tries from Keith Earls, Jack O’Donoghue and Andrew Conway.
Prop James Cronin bagged the bonus point try a minute after the restart and only the margin of victory remained in doubt.
After Cian Kelleher had crossed for the first of two Connacht tries in the 51st minute, Munster put their visitors to the sword, nothcing three further tries from Conway, his second of the game. Francis Saili and finally Conor Oliver in the dying embers of the game.
MUNSTER: Andrew Conway; Alex Wootton, Jaco Taute, Dan Goggin, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Angus Lloyd; James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Stephen Archer, Darren O'Shea, Billy Holland (capt), Jean Deysel, Conor Oliver, Jack O'Donoghue. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy O'Donnell, Conor Murray, Tyler Bleyendaal, Francis Saili.
CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran; Danie Poolman, Tom Farrell, Craig Ronaldson, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, Eoin McKeon, James Connolly, John Muldoon (capt). Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Finlay Bealham, Sean O'Brien, Naulia Dawai, John Cooney, Marnitz Boshoff, Darragh Leader.
REFEREE: David Wilkinson (Ireland)