RESILIENT Garryowen remain within striking distance of league leaders Lansdowne thanks to their gritty victory over Young Munster at a rain-soaked Tom Clifford Park.
Garryowen, coached by former Ireland scrum-half Tom Tierney, outscored their hosts by two tries to one to record their fifth win of the campaign and end a lengthy losing record against their local rivals.
A precious try from the Sky Blues' towering lock Aaron McCloskey, who muscled his way over the line just before half-time, helped the visitors into an 11-3 half-time lead.
Munsters were left to chase the game throughout the second half but did, at least, have the consolation of retaining fourth spot in the table after Brian Haugh's third penalty of the game helped them secure a losing bonus point.
Despite the incessant rain and resultant slippery conditions, Garryowen started well as exciting young out-half Jamie Gavin knocked over two penalties in the second and eighth minutes for a 6-0 lead.
Despite a concerted period of pressure coming up to the half-hour mark, Young Munster failed to take advantage of two good scoring opportunities when scrum-half Brian Haugh twice saw penalty attempts hit the upright.
Haugh finally managed to reduce Garryowen's lead in the 36th minute with his first successful penalty but McCloskey's try, which arrived despite Garryowen having hooker James Rael in the sin-bin, helped the visitors to their eight-point interval lead.
Garryowen pulled further clear five minutes after the restart when the visitors were awarded a penalty try. Gavin converted and added a 57th-minute penalty goal as the visitors' lead jumped out to 21-6.
In between those two successful kicks, Munsters turned down the shot of a couple of kickable penalties, gambling on potentially bigger rewards by opting for a scrum. Those decisions back-fired, however, as Garryowen managed to clear their lines.
To their credit, Munsters rallied and back-row Mark Rowley barged his way over the try line, following a line-out inside the Garryowen 22. With four minutes remaining, Garryowen were penalised for drifting offside and Haugh kicked his third penalty to secure the losing bonus point.
YOUNG MUNSTER – C O'Hanlon; S McCauley, M Doyle, L Kuntz, D O'Neill; G Quinn-McDonogh, B Haugh; G Flaherty, G Slattery, D Cantillon; S Duggan, D Gallagher; M Rowley, L Russell, N Melbourne. Subs used: G Burke, C Liston, H McGrath, M Prendergast.
GARRYOWEN – R O'Mahony; L Burke, J McInerney, C Doyle, C O'Shea; J Gavin, N Cronin; R Brosnan, J Rael, JP Cooney; A Kennedy, A McCloskey; M Hanrahan, A Kavanagh, D Sherry. Subs used: D Rowley, P O'Shea, C Hartigan, M Jarvis.
REF – S Gallagher (IRFU)