Young Munster left 'gutted' as Lansdowne strike late
Lansdowne 23 Young Munster 19 (after extra-time)
As the clock ticked into injury-time in extra-time in what was an utterly pulsating contest from start to finish, it looked like Young Munster would be planning another trip back to the Aviva Stadium in two weeks.
The Limerick side had already played almost 10 minutes of the first half with 13 players but when Craig O’Hanlon was sent to the sin-bin with two minutes left, the momentum in this Division 1A semi-final swung back in Lansdowne’s favour.
The runaway league leaders trailed 19-16 but their dogged determination and, ultimately, their patience paid off when Tyrone Moran forced his way over the whitewash in what proved to the last play of the game.
This was a throwback to the good old days of Irish club rugby and it was just a shame that more supporters weren’t there to witness it or indeed able watch it on TV.
“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching but at the same time, we are extremely proud of the lads,” a deflated John Staunton said afterwards.
“I felt we probably did enough to win but we showed a lack of composure in injury-time.”
The Young Munster coach had seen his side go into the break 13-6 down but they were always in touch.
Scott Deasy and Gearoid Lyons had exchanged a couple of penalties each before the talented Lansdowne back line showed what they are capable of in first-half injury-time.
Tom Daly finished a sweeping move that was started inside their own half and Deasy converted.
David Begley and Yasin Browne both spent 10 minutes in the bin but Young Munster came out flying in the second half.
Former Ireland U-20 international Diarmaid McCarthy, who was outstanding throughout, served up another reminder of his undoubted class when he raced onto a grubber kick and collected it at full tilt to score. Lyons’ conversion levelled it again. The Munster academy player showed great nerve to slot a penalty from a tight angle but replacement Conor McKeown cancelled it out to send the game to extra-time.
The visitors took the lead with a well-worked Willie Staunton drop goal and they looked like seeing it out until Lansdowne struck for the crucial blow through Moran and McKeown converted.
The 2013 champions will take on the holders Clontarf in the decider and if it’s anything like this epic, another treat lies in store.
Lansdowne – C Kelleher; C Aherne, T Farrell, T Daly, I Fitzpatrick; S Deasy (C McKeown 69), A Griggs (P O’Driscoll 72); P Dooley, T Moran, I Prendeville (A Boland 61); B Moylett, S Gardiner; J McSwiney, A Conneely, R Boucher.
Young Munster – K Hifo; D McCarthy, D Goggin, G Lyons, E Carr (C O’Hanlon 63); W Staunton, R Guerin; D Begley, G Slattery, H McGrath (D Gallagher 63); T Goggin, S Duggan; A Kennedy, Y Browne (L O’Halloran 72), S Rennison (D Dee 15).
Ref – E Wilkinson