Sunday 18 March 2018

REVEALED: readers choose their greatest Munster side of the professional era

Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Doug Howlett celebrate victory in the 2008 heineken Cup Final. Will the trio make the greatest Munster team of the professional era?
Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Doug Howlett celebrate victory in the 2008 heineken Cup Final. Will the trio make the greatest Munster team of the professional era?
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

Last week we asked our readers to vote for their greatest Munster team of the professional era and today we can reveal the starting fifteen.

Following on from our Leinster selection, readers voted in their droves to choose the best 15 players to have worn the famous red jersey since 1995.

Here are the two South Africans, two New Zealanders and eleven Irishmen that made the cut after more than 35,000 votes were cast.

15. Shaun Payne

Prior to Isa Nacewa, South African Shaun Payne took most plaudits as one of the most consistent and shrewd buys in Irish rugby. Spent five years at Munster and recognised as one of the best buys for the province.

Shaun Payne

14. Doug Howlett

After injuries dogged Christian Cullen's time with Munster, there were fears that fellow Kiwi Howlett might go the same way, but he delivered time and time again in red. Part of the 2008 Heineken Cup winning side and was a popular choice for captain.

Doug Howlett has been forced to quit because of a shoulder injury

13. Rua Tipoki

The New Zealander was a no-nonsense centre whose defensive solidity was the platform for so many victories. Formed a brilliant partnership with Liefemi Mafi.
Rua Tipoki has not played for Munster since January because of injury

12. Trevor Halstead

The closest battle on the team was between Halstead and Liefemi Mafi for the number 12 jersey. The teak-tough South African had just two per cent of the votes to spare over the current Perpignan player. Spent two seasons in Munster and scored during the 2006 Heinken Cup Final victory over Biarritz.

Trevor Halstead in action in the 2008 Heineken Cup final against Biarritz

11. Simon Zebo

While Anthony Horgan claimed nearly a credible quarter of the public vote, the 2013 Lions international Zebo was the popular choice among the readers.

Munster 7.jpg
Simon Zebo, Munster, is tackled by Johnny Leota, Sale Sharks. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

10. Ronan O'Gara

With the greatest respect to Paul Warwick and Ian Keatley, the number 10 question was never in doubt for the player voted with making the greatest contribution to the Heineken Cup.

Ronan O'Gara, Munster, kicks for touch during the 2006 Heineken Cup Final between Munster and Biarritz Olympique. Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

9. Peter Stringer

The ever-green Peter Stringer will always have a place in the hearts of the Munster supporters where his all-action displays helped Munster to eventually claim the Holy Grail of European success in 2006 and 2008.

Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer celebrates victory over Toulouse in the 2000 Heineken Cup semi-final.

8. Anthony Foley

Current head coach Anthony Foley's exploits at the base of the scrum have not been forgotten by supporters. The Clare man polled just short of three quarters of the vote.
Munster veteran Anthony Foley admits he lives for games like tomorrow's must-win Heineken Cup clash with Wasps

7. David Wallace

The versatile flanker romped home with 97pc of the vote.
David Wallace will win his 200th cap as Munster name an unchanged starting XV. Photo: Getty Images

6. Alan Quinlan

Current captain Peter O'Mahony fell short to Alan Quinlan. An illustration of the competition for the number six jersey was the fact that Jim Williams claimed 19pc of the vote.
Alan Quinlan will be anxious to make a winning return for Munster tonight

5. Paul O'Connell

While John Langford made a big contribution in his own right, he simply had no chance up against arguably the most inspirational Irish rugby player of his generation, and perhaps of all-time.

Paul O'Connell braved the elements at training this week - Munster will be looking for an inspirational performance from their star forward in France tomorrow. Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

4. Donncha O'Callaghan

A Munster, Ireland and Lions partnership is reunited with the Cork lock fending off stiff competition from the legendary Mick Galwey to claim a starting spot.

Munster captain Donncha O'Callaghan

3. John Hayes

A runaway winner for the tight-head position. The Bull claimed all but seven per cent of the public vote after distinguished service for both club and country.
'I don't know if it's the end. That’s the honest answer,' said Munster veteran John Hayes, 37, after Saturday’s Magners League final. Photo: DIARMUID GREENE / SPORTSFILE

2. Keith Wood

The former Ireland captain spent only one year at his native province, the year they lost agonisingly to Northampton in the 2000 final, but has always remained a fan's favourite. Jerry Flannery polled 38pc of the votes.

Keith Woods celebrates the 2000 Heinken Cup semi-final victory over Toulouse

1. Peter Clohessy

The grizzly Limerick prop nearly double the vote of two-time Heineken Cup winner Marcus Horan.

Peter Clohessy with Paul O'Connell during their Munster days

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