Munster captain Peter O'Mahony, right, and Bundee Aki, of Connacht, get to grips with each other at the Sportsground
FOURTEEN-MAN Munster suffered a frustrating 20-16 defeat to Connacht in their thrilling Guinness PRO14 interprovincial derby clash at the Sportsground on Friday night.
Munster full-back Andrew was red-carded for what referee Nigel Owens and his TMO viewed as an elbow to the head of Connacht’s Jack Carty as the Connacht out-half looked to chase after his own kick downfield.
This was Munster’s third defeat from their opening seven Pro14 fixtures this season and they now trail Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors by 12 points.
Munster made an ideal start when Simon Zebo touched down after three minutes, following Rory Scannell’s terrific off-load.
Ian Keatley converted and added a penalty goal as Munster built a 10-0 lead against opponents who had won just one of their previous six league games this season.
Connacht hit back with Bundee Aki and Jarrad Butler combining to send Tiernan O’Halloran over. Carty’s conversion made it 10-7 to Munster, before an Ian Keatley penalty pushed the visitors 13-7 to the good.
Connacht who trailed 10-13 at half-time after another successful penalty drew level with the out-half’’s third successful kick of the night.
Munster regained the lead at 16-13 when replacement JJ Hanrahan slotted a penalty after Conway had been dismissed.
However, a Tom Farrell try, converted by Craig Ronaldson, steered Connacht to a fourth win in their last seven meetings with Munster.
SCORERS: Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Tom Farrell try each, Jack Carty two pens, two cons, Craig Ronaldson con. Munster: Simon Zebo try, Ian Keatley two pens, con, JJ Hanrahan pen.
CONNACHT: Tiernan O'Halloran; Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (capt). Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.
MUNSTER: Simon Zebo; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Ian Keatley, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rhys Marshall, John Ryan, Mark Flanagan, Billy Holland, Peter O'Mahony (capt), Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander. Replacements: Kevin O'Byrne, Liam O'Connor, Stephen Archer, Sean McCarthy, Jack O'Donoghue, Duncan Williams, JJ Hanrahan, Darren Sweetnam.
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (Wales)