IT is an All-Ireland League match lost in the mists of time, but the Dungannon versus Young Munster clash in 2001 saw two of Ireland's greatest second-rows go head-to-head -- one winding down a long and illustrious career, one just starting out.
That was the afternoon former Ireland, Ulster, Saracens and Dungannon second-row Paddy Johns got his first look at Paul O'Connell up close, and the fiery-haired beanpole in the middle of the Young Munster line-out made a hell of an impression.
"I remember it well," says Johns. "I was coming to the end of my time and he was just starting out, only a kid really, but you could see he had it, that he was going to be something special. He was head and shoulders the best player on their team and it has been no surprise to me to see what he has achieved in the game."
Without a game since he injured his knee against France nearly five weeks ago, Munster are desperate to get their captain on the field for Sunday's quarter-final against Ulster in Thomond Park, and Johns knows how critical that could be.
"He is a central figure for them, for every team he plays for," says Johns. "You would have to rank O'Connell up amongst the very best. Certainly, in terms of Irish second-rows, probably only Willie John (McBride) could compete with what he has achieved in the game."
Johns, now 44, was capped 59 times by Ireland between 1990 and 2000, successfully bridging the amateur and professional eras.
He also played many times for Ulster against Munster, coming into the side at the tail end of their inter-provincial dominance in the 1980s and watching the contest level up through the next decade.
He sees it as being pretty level these days also, with a rapidly improving Ulster now challenging Munster for the role of Ireland's second province behind Leinster and expects a tense, close contest on Sunday.
"I started playing with Ulster during the Jimmy Davidson 10-in-a-row era and we were fairly dominant back then," he recalls. "But in the 1990s the tide turned and Munster became dominant. I faced Munster on many occasions and it probably worked out 50-50 over my career. It was always extremely physical, very
tough and there were times when it would spill over.
"But that was the way it was back then and it was not something you would really notice -- if you got a dig, you gave one back at the next ruck and got on with it. I'd expect it to be pretty physical in Thomond as well.
"Ulster have done well this year -- I think Brian McLaughlin has built a good team, with younger and older players combined," adds Johns.
"He has brought a lot of stability and the results are reflecting that. Going down to Limerick, there's probably a bit more confidence than there would have been a few years ago or even last year. They have won a few close games this season and toughed it out, and Munster have injury worries over a few key players."
After retiring from rugby at the start of the last decade, Johns stepped back from the game to spend time with his family and his work as a dentist.
However, after 10 years out of rugby, he got the bug back watching the World Cup last September and before he knew it he was back on the pitch, helping out with the coaching duties at Dungannon, alongside fellow former Ulster players Justin Fitzpatrick and Kieran Campbell.
He is excited by the talent coming through in the province, singling out three Ulster Academy and Dungannon youngsters, Ali Birch, Chris Cochrane and Peter Nelson as ones to watch. He is keen to see this young talent flourish at senior level with the province and it gives him an interesting perspective on the issue of Ulster's overseas players.
"I definitely believe having a few experienced foreign players brings on the local lads," says Johns. "There is a definitely a place for it but I think maybe three or four is all you want and then try and develop your home players. (Ireland coach) Declan Kidney wants more Irish players coming through and the more foreign players you have, the less opportunities to develop home-grown players -- look at the English Premiership in football, where there are not as many English players as their national side would want.
"The overseas guys make us more competitive, and the ones that have been brought in have certainly helped Ulster, but we are getting to the stage where if you played a purely home-grown Leinster or Munster team, you wouldn't be too far off. Ulster might need a couple of imports but the need for a lot of foreign players is not as strong.
"And there is great talent coming through. We have three or four young boys in Dungannon, strong, talented, committed and definitely capable of making the step-up."
Johns will be overseeing that talent at Dungannon's clash with Galwegians this weekend, and work is preventing him travelling to Limerick. He will watch it on TV and, while he believes Ulster travel with a great chance, he is loath to bet against Munster at home.
"I wouldn't bet much money against Munster in Thomond Park. It is going to be very difficult down there. History has shown that, and they are smarting from the Leinster result. How much Munster bounce back depends on how much Ulster front up.
"So for Ulster to win, they are going to need to be in top form and hit the ground running. Otherwise it could be a long day for them."