Sunday 20 October 2019

Audrey O'Connor: 'Then wham bam, over the ball sails and all hell breaks out'

My Munster

Munster fan Audrey O’Connor is a native of Ardagh in Co Limerick but now resides in the low lying fields of Athenry in Co Galway
Munster fan Audrey O’Connor is a native of Ardagh in Co Limerick but now resides in the low lying fields of Athenry in Co Galway Sportsdesk

1. What was your first Munster Rugby match? It was a Heineken Cup match against Swansea in 1995 in the old Thomond Park. Around 6,000 diehard Munster supporters were there on a cold November day. We won 17-13 after a titanic battle.

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2. What Munster game sticks out in your memory and why? To win our first Heineken Cup final in Cardiff against Biarritz will always stick out in my memory. To be in the Millennium Stadium with so many Munster supporters... that try from Stringer, oh my God, I think I ended up two rows further down in the stadium when he scored. To have the pleasure of being there to see us lift that cup for the first time, it still brings tears today.


3. What current Munster player do you looking forward to watching? CJ Stander. One of the most dedicated players both on and off the pitch, gives a 100 per cent every time he puts on the red jersey and never gives up. He's a true advocate of the sport, loves rugby, loves Munster and gives so much time at events to meet fans young and old.


4. Describe the most memorable Munster score you've seen? Ronan O'Gara's drop goal against Northampton Saints in Thomond Park. We were 21-20 behind with the clock edging closer to full-time, and Northampton were trying to run the clock down. Munster got a scrum and 41 phases later the ball comes back from Leamy to O'Gara and then wham bam, over the ball sails and all hell breaks out in the stadium.

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5. You're given a blank cheque to sign any player in the world. Who would it be? Maro Itoje. He's such a great player, has great ability in the lineout, very imposing, athletic and dangerous with ball in hand. Something about him reminds me of Donncha O'Callaghan, that cheeky chappie kind of guy.


6. Earliest rugby memory? Ireland winning the Triple Crown in 1985, with Ciarán Fitzgerald as captain. I can remember him turning around to the crowd with his fists raised celebrating.


7. Where do you sit or stand in Thomond Park? West Stand lower, about halfway in the stand, great seats and a great view. I've been a season-ticket holder for more than ten years, along with my two sisters, Carmel and Olive, and my daughter Kellie.


8. Which overseas player that represented the province is or was your favourite? Dougie Howlett was great in the Munster jersey, had such heart and commitment and a gentleman on and off the pitch. He was great to greet and meet the fans before or after games, always taking the time for photos and a quick chat. Was a great asset to the club and will always be remembered here.


9. What is your favourite away ground? Having won two Heineken Cups there and seeing Ireland win the Grand Slam there, the Millennium Stadium holds many special memories. The Welsh are great rugby supporters and very welcoming and always have great craic with them.


10. What player from another Irish province do you admire? Ross Byrne. Probably one of the most underrated out-halves in Ireland. He's a cool, calm character, who has so much skill and is a great all-round player and has great awareness on the pitch.


11. What is your favourite Munster jersey and what does it remind you of? Red Canterbury home jersey with the Toyota logo from 2006 era, which brings back great memories. They took many a battering at matches and celebratory nights afterwards.


12. What team in any other sport other than Munster Rugby do you follow? Limerick hurlers. Have spent many wet, cold and windy days trekking all over the country following our beloved Limerick hurlers. It was fantastic to be in attendance to witness the outpouring of emotion with them winning the All-Ireland final in 2018.


13. What game in Munster's history would you love to go back to and attend? Back to 1978 when Munster beat the All Blacks, 12-0 in Thomond Park. To witness being the first Irish team to beat the great All Blacks and to hold them to no score, that would be great to revisit.


14. You have one wish for Munster this season. What is it? I would love to see Munster win the European Cup again. Time to add some more memories to those from 2006 and 2008 and let the younger generation experience the joy I've experienced.


15. Invite three Munster players past or present to dinner. Who would you bring? Donncha O'Callaghan, Simon Zebo and CJ Stander. Donncha is one funny lad and a great player. I would think he has some amount of stories and we'll never forget his red trunks in Cardiff. No dinner party would be boring with Zeebs attending and I'd love to hear about CJ's time growing up in South Africa and his time with the club. It'd be a fun-filled night.

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