Sunday 17 November 2019

'The 2006 final I was in Boston watching the game in PJ Ryan's pub'


The atmosphere at the game against Glasgow Warriors in October 2016 following the death of Anthony Foley left a lasting impact on Munster fan Mark Kennedy
The atmosphere at the game against Glasgow Warriors in October 2016 following the death of Anthony Foley left a lasting impact on Munster fan Mark Kennedy

My Munster: Mark Kennedy

1. What was your first Munster Rugby match?

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Munster fan Mark Kennedy
Munster fan Mark Kennedy

November 1, 1995. Munster versus Swansea in the first Heineken Cup fixture to be played in Thomond Park. The love affair with Munster Rugby started then and it is still going strong today.

2. What Munster game sticks out in your memory and why?

The Heineken Cup pool fixture with Saracens at Thomond Park in January 2000. They were loaded with world class talent such as Francois Pienaar and Thierry Lacroix for that game. Saracens looked to have won the game late on but Munster's sheer grit and determination came to the fore with Keith Wood crossing over for a crucial try and then Ronan O'Gara with a superb conversion in horrendously wet conditions. There was even still time, if I recall correctly, for John Langford to block a last gasp Saracens drop goal.

3. What current Munster player do you look forward to watching?

I am a really big fan of John Ryan. He is so underrated outside of the province in my opinion. His work in the scrum and all-round play are always on point.

4. Describe the most memorable Munster score you've seen?

Following the deadth of Anthony Foley Munster Rugby took on Glasgow Warriors and it was a day of huge emotion for everyone. Thomond Park's reaction to the opening try which was scored by Tyler Bleyendaal lives long in the memory.

5. You're given a blank cheque to sign any player in the world. Who would it be?

England and Saracens out-half Owen Farrell. He is the complete player.

6. Earliest rugby memory?

It would have been back in the 1990s. The Young Munster home matches against their great rivals Garryowen, Shannon and Cork Con. They were tasty fixtures.

7. Where do you sit or stand in Thomond Park?

The East Terrace to the core. I am a regular supporter.

8. Which overseas player that represented the province is or was your favourite?

Dougie Howlett oozed class on the pitch, and he was a try-scoring machine. His passion for the province was there for all to see. Think back to the All Blacks fixture in Thomond Park in 2008 with Howlett, Mafi, Tipoki and Manning performing the Munster Haka.

9. What is your favourite away ground?

Gloucester. Kingsholm. The Shed. It is a proper rugby union ground.

10. What player from another Irish province do you admire?

James Ryan (Leinster). He is a colossal second-row. Future Ireland and Lions captain. His work-rate is unreal.

11. What is your favourite Munster jersey and what does it remind you of?

2006. The first Heineken Cup final victory jersey.

12. What team in any other sport other than Munster Rugby do you follow?

Limerick hurling.

13. What game in Munster's history would you love to go back to and attend?

Biarritz. Heineken Cup final. 2006. I was in Boston watching the game in PJ Ryan's, Somerville. I would love to relive the action in the Millennium Stadium in person.

14. You have one wish for Munster this season. What is it?

Win silverware. This squad has been knocking at the door for a number of seasons; hopefully this season we can add a bit more to our attacking play (in Stephen Larkham we trust) to deliver a performance to get us over the line come the business end of the season.

15. Invite three Munster players past or present to dinner. Who would you bring?

Ronan O'Gara oozes class on and off the field, and he could talk about anything and everything. Simon Zebo because he is entertaining, engaging, and would light the place up. Anthony Foley: command and presence, a true leader.

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