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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Harlequins upset Munster in Thomond Park Amlin Cup semi

Harlequins shocked Munster in Limerick on the weekend as they beat the home side 20-12 at Thomond Park to progress to the Amlin Challenge Cup final, where they will face Stade Francais.

Harlequins last won Europe’s second-tier club competition in 2001 and 2004, and after scoring tries through George Robson and Danny Care, look like they could be on track for a third title, putting the controversy of recent seasons behind them.

With the upset, the London based side became only the second side in 16 years and 42 games to beat Munster at Thomond Park in European competition. They did so with 14 men for the last ten minutes of the game, after Nick Easter was shown a second yellow.

Munster flyhalf Ronan O’Gara has since said that despite coach Tony McGahan saying they were all embarrassed by the loss, the team are solely to blame.

"They (the coaches) are not on the pitch. It’s easy to blame them but the players were poor so let’s take it on the chin, put your hands up. They didn’t coach us to play like that. I would 100% put it down to the players under-performing," said O’Gara.

McGahan was just as forthright earlier: "We’re extremely embarrassed about the way we conducted ourselves on Saturday, with regard to playing at home, and what we represent, and what our supporters have given us over a long period of time.

"We have to live with that. We certainly need an opportunity to repay that faith, and that will come on Friday evening, and that will lend itself to next week," he said.

Munster play Connacht in the Magners League on Friday, while Harlequins will face Stade Francais, who beat Clermont 29-25, in the final in Cardiff on May 20th.

Time: 06:33



  • first

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:11 pm  

  • First.......sorry but we wont be counting this as a second loss,its only a second tier competion

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:12 pm  

  • Munster past it , time takes its toll on all great teams, looking at Horan, Wallace, Leamy, they are all getting on . Mind you they looked clueless in terms of set pieces etc. blame the coach. Leinster on the rise in terms of depth and young talent coming through the system. Even Connacht had more players on the Irish U-20 squad, which speaks volumes. The fact that Munster cant produce a decent centre is self evident ( and no Earls is not a centre by any imagination!) Hope they bounce back, but I expect a few lean years and will be interesting to see how many die hard Munsster supporters are there in the tough times ahead.

    By Anonymous ConnactFan, at May 04, 2011 3:13 pm  

  • munster need centers! and front row forwards! buying in bj isn't going to be a miracle cure! if they play like that they will have a silverless season they will be beaten up in the magners knockout.

    By Anonymous rick, at May 04, 2011 3:22 pm  

  • "First.......sorry but we wont be counting this as a second loss,its only a second tier competion"

    Then why didn't you win the game? Surely the mighty Munster should cruise through the second tier?

    Evidently not. Well done to the Quins, thoroughly deserved.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:31 pm  

  • hahaha :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:43 pm  

  • Harlequins defense was insane!! They deserved it.

    By Blogger Toners, at May 04, 2011 3:43 pm  

  • "sorry but we wont be counting this as a second loss, its only a second tier competion..." so childish!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:47 pm  

  • I believe that comment about 'not counting this as a loss' was made by a troll... i believe it is either a die hard fan who is a bit of a homo who doesnt understand the game. or its just a knob trying to cause problems...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 3:58 pm  

  • I love it when some dickhead writes 'first' and then he's not actually first because another dickhead beat him to it haha what a knob!!...good to see the quins staff repping timberland.

    By Anonymous Dan, at May 04, 2011 4:00 pm  

  • *Pedant alert*
    At 2:26 (during the TMO decision) one of the commentators says "you just need downward pressure" - I'm pretty sure that rule was abandoned a few years ago. Downward pressure's now irrelevant, as long as you're touching the ball while it touches the ground you're OK. Irrelevant in this case because I think Care did have downward pressure on it, but there you go.

    By Anonymous Von, at May 04, 2011 4:19 pm  

  • Cheers for the video RD. Quins destroyed Munster in the first half, Munster didn't really seem up for it. A Munster of previous years would have steamrollered Quins in the second half who showed their relative inexperience. Not to take anything away from Quins though who showed good heart, they are a fairly young side and will be good to see what they'll be like next year with the experience they've had.

    Well said I think Munster are really struggling but no doubt they'll bring players in over the summer, but as you said, the problem is young Irish players dont seem to be coming through for them like for Leinster in particular.

    Leading to the World Cup later this year, Ireland are going to be an interesting team to watch. The Leinster boys look on fire while the experienced (but out of form) Munster players should make an interesting combo.

    By Anonymous suckerforvampires, at May 04, 2011 4:36 pm  

  • Nick easter is a cock

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 5:06 pm  

  • nick easter is a legend

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 5:19 pm  

  • Why can't the Irish just take a loss gracefully?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 5:22 pm  

  • Donncha o'callaghan is a cock, average player at best who picks fights and moans at every decision given against him.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 5:25 pm  

  • Nick Easter is horrendous. Complete joke how hes still playing for England based or recent performances

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 5:39 pm  

  • I was at the game (south terrace with all the fecking children!) Look being fair to quins we didnt show up atal, the intensity wasnt there, and you got the feeling before the match that Munster almost had to just turn up. To be honest Quins were the better team, they showed great heart out there but if anyones honest their victory was more about Munster not performing rather than Harlequins 'upstaging' them.

    Regarding Anonymous of course they regard this as a second loss, the players and management wouldnt have came out apologising to the fans if they hadnt felt like it was a second tier competition but again being honest it obviously is.

    Regarding Connacht Fan, did you expect these players you mentioned to play forever? Every team has a cycle. There is a peak to that cycle which Munster had from 2006-2009 in the Heineken cup quarter final against Ospreys. Since then they havent reached the heights on a consistent basis, and there are a number of reasons for that but the main one is competition, look at what the nucleus of that team has acheived in the past ten years, it would be easy to lose motivation as they have won everything there is to win, however what you need is a new generatio of players coming through to comete for the jerseys and Munster dont have that. But dont put any slight on Munster fans, it is our local sport, our prefered sport and we were there from 1996-2006 when the team didnt win a Heineken cup, and wel still be there filling out thomond park on a regular basis as thats what we are renowned for.

    Well done to Harlequins. Good luck in Cardiff.

    By Blogger Paul Gormley, at May 04, 2011 6:19 pm  

  • ^^
    100% right

    fortunetly for irish rugby leinster have a bright future which will encourage munster to step it up a level

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 6:27 pm  

  • I am a Munster fan through and through I was just happy that O'Callaghan's fake tan wasn't too badly affected when he and Easter had the tussle.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 6:52 pm  

  • I see Stade Français winning the final of the ugliest shirt on the field, despite the Harlequins effort to put on the same jersey colours that should never have been associated...

    By Blogger Threma, at May 04, 2011 7:12 pm  

  • munster fans booing their own team how pathetic.

    By Blogger Neil, at May 04, 2011 7:32 pm  

  • Neil what booing?

    The only booing I heard during the whole game was directed at the ref, not a favourite in Limerick before and certainly not after!

    Fair play to Quins they fully deserved their win. Good luck to them in the final.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 7:46 pm  

  • Neil shut up and dont be talking about something you dont understand.

    By Blogger Paul Gormley, at May 04, 2011 8:23 pm  

  • No effort due to 2nd tier competition, tell that to the Munster fans that have tickets for Cardiff and have nothing but a weekend full of smug Leinster fans waiting for them.

    Yes this team needs serious youthful rejuvenation. I think the addition of BJ Botha (unbelieveable scrummager, can teach the young fellas how it's done and how to train), Keatley (great player, lots to come from this kid, future Ireland 10) and one of the multitudes of centers from NZ (rumours around Stanley or Smith, both fantastic) will be sufficient for the team. We're going to have to face up to a few barren years while the cycle does a full loop, look at Ulster. Warwick gone, Jones to step up, get rid of Mafi from starting line up, ball hog.

    By Blogger Darren, at May 04, 2011 8:58 pm  

  • I'm a Munster supporter, as I'm always admitting here. I have to say, this is the worst performance I've seen from Munster in the professional era. They were totally hopeless. I think they won one lineout or scrum in the whole game (JUST ONE!!). They missed tackles everywhere, they had no ideas at all. Harlequins were good, but Munster made them look great.

    Congratulations to Harlequins, and good luck in the final.

    As for Munster - I really think that the team is in big trouble now. I was worried a year ago, but now I am very, very worried. I think the team may be entering a painful period of rebuilding...and losing lots of games. Hopefully we will rise again :)

    By Anonymous Mike, at May 04, 2011 11:13 pm  

  • Lots of Munster fans/players/coaches looking to take this win away from the quins, all moaning about not playing well etc etc Boo Hoo, Quins played out their skins dominated Munster on every inch of the park. good to see them challenging for silverware again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 04, 2011 11:15 pm  

  • @darren

    keatley will never be Ireland's first choice out-half.he is an average enough player,he does the basics well,but thats about it.johnny sexton will be first choice for the forseeable future,until paddy jackson is ready to take over.he is an amazing talent,can't wait to see him in an irish jersey.

    By Anonymous Leeners93, at May 04, 2011 11:26 pm  

  • Lots of Munster fans/players/coaches looking to take this win away from the quins

    I don't understand your point. Quins were clearly the best team, by a mile. But the fact remains that Munster were absolutely terrible, by their standards. Unless you are claiming that - in every game - both teams play to their true potential every time? No, I didn't think so.

    Quins played close to their potential, Munster didn't. That's just a fact.

    Nevertheless, I wish Quins well in the final. We will see if they can play close to their full potential again, and if it's good enough to beat Stade.

    By Anonymous Gav, at May 04, 2011 11:37 pm  

  • if munster have "no youth" in their squad then why is it that theyre top of the magners league...a competition in which they rarely play anyone other that their youth/academy players...and also the Munster A side has done a clean sweep of the inter-pros for the past number of seasons?

    Obviously the first team is in a bit of decline but people have to give their young players a chance to step up...duncan williams,conor murray,ian nagle,stephen archer,peter o'mahony and mike sherry would all fall into contracts in any other club in Ireland/UK and they still have to wait their turn in Munster!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 05, 2011 12:06 am  

  • Quins are ridiculous when they go a man down: it's like the have a 14/13 man Hulk-out in defence. It's almost better to let them all stay on the pitch if you want to beat them!

    By Blogger SmellyNerfherder, at May 05, 2011 9:14 am  

  • There are evidently serious problems with Munster , several players are well past their best ( Horan , Leamy , Hayes , O Callaghan, Stringer, Wallace, Mick O Driscoll ). Some players don`t deserve to wear a Munster short ( Donacha Ryan , Mafi , Tiutuipiu , Buckley) and then there is the coaching staff ( Foley - defensive coach, Galwey ???...jobs for the boys, Sean Payne -manager), all great servants of Munster but no coaching pedigree at this level. We also have an over reliance on foreign coaches.It was a Munster and Irish born coach who guided Munster to their Heineken Cup victories

    On a positive note we have had some success stories in the team , Felix Jones , James Caughlan , Varley (must sort throwing), Connor Murray , Mick Sherry all good players with a positive outlook.

    But we need to sort out front row , back row , cover for outhalf , attacking centers and pacy wingers .....entire team really

    Aswell as this we need to sort out the coaching appointments and get away from jobs for the boys...regardless of service

    Harlequinns were the superior team on Saturday and had they slotted the relatively easy penalties they missed they would have been out of sight

    Munsters performance was embarassing , they looked leaderless until the introduction of O Connell and apart from the introduction of O`Connell no other subsitute made a difference

    Any fool that says this was a second tier competition that Munster did`nt mind losing is a muppet...it`s a European title
    The referee was booed at the end of the match not the players , how Poite is an international referee beggars belief I would have been happier to have had Berdos ( his touch judge) ref the match

    Good luck to Quinns and Leinster ( now the best team in Europe ) in their respective finals

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 05, 2011 11:41 am  

  • What annoys me is Munster probably have a better back 3 than Leinster (including the fact Nacewa is best 15 in Europe, Howlett over Horgan, Earls over Fitzgearld and Jones looks unbelieveable), but the centres have been a huge let down, and lets not forget Warrick has had a poor season too.

    Although it was rumoured Conrad Smith might be coming, he looks set to stay with the Hurricanes, but Munster should do everything to try and get him.

    Johne Murphy has been exposed as the poor signing I feared he would be so unless they try and mould Zebo into a 13 they will continue to struggle, whereas Leinster have a conveyor belt of 12/13s.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 05, 2011 5:16 pm  

  • maybe instead of signing below average islanders or SH stars up for a quick dollar, Munster should pick homegrown youngsters in the centres...

    It's what Leinster do, and they've been providing Ireland with a backline for years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 06, 2011 2:21 am  

  • Jones looks unbelieveable

    I think I've seen all of Jones' first team games for Munster. He's been decent. Unbelievable? Not at all. I honestly don't know where that is coming from.

    By Anonymous Mike, at May 06, 2011 9:09 am  

  • Leinster to ring the changes being on players like jennings, Van der merve and Wright; what have Munster got; Kayes and Horan = pathethic.

    They need to start binning players like Horan, Hayes, Nial Ronan, Billy Holland, etc all either to old or not good enough.

    They will have to take 2 seasons of playing a core of inexperience in POM, Tommy O Donnell, Connor Murray, Simon Zebo, etc... experiment with them;

    At Leinster Dave Kearney has played both wings, full back and centre, Cian Healy came on as a flanker a couple of games ago; Isaac boss played first centre as well; give these players game time and flexibilty;

    ONe more big buy to tide them over and then blood the youngs like Murray, Zebo, POM, Nagle, TOD and ffs get them eating and lifting weights; Nagle looks like a stick man.

    All from an avid Leinster fan; this is all because of Kidney kissing the old guards ass for about 6 years and neglecting any youth system at Munster.

    By Anonymous Kenny, at May 06, 2011 10:38 am  

  • How about Conor O'Shea for the Munster job!?

    By Anonymous Tony McGahan, at May 06, 2011 10:46 am  

  • In fairness I think Conor O'Shea knew what to expect and insured the players knew what to do for the win!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 06, 2011 12:02 pm  

  • Nial Ronan has performed well with Munster , Billy Holland probably only there because of who is father is.

    All those that performed well this year have come up through the academy or clubs

    The recruitment policy for SH players needs to be seriously looked at Ok Conrad Smith is an excellent All Black but when he arrives ( if) what condition will he be in and will he be past his best

    Need to concentrate on getting home grown players through the academies

    When Leinster sat back to assess their situation some years ago they looked at the Leicester model and followed that , ok they have foreign player bit the bulk of the team and backbone of the team is Irish. Even Struass looks like he may claim Irish elagibility

    Munster seriously need to do an indepth review and change their model entirely if we are ever to savour the glory days of Heineken Cup rugby again

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 06, 2011 1:06 pm  

  • " Anonymous said...
    Nial Ronan has performed well with Munster , Billy Holland probably only there because of who is father is."

    so your saying Niall Ronan is HEC standard, absolute rubbish. Great servants as they were Horan and Hayes should not be near HEC matches. Holding on to these below standard players is what is holding Munster back. Johne Murphy is rubbish as well, i mean is alright at ML level but there all totally found out at Euro games even the lower tier ones hence this mauling at home.

    By Anonymous Kenny, at May 06, 2011 2:02 pm  

  • Re: Kenny I want to take you up on the binning of hayes and Horan, I get your point they are no longer at their prime but who are you to say that Munster should be turning their back on them? Both of these two players have been absolute Pillars for bopth province and country for the guts of ten years and have the right to bow out in their own time when they feel the time is right, to suggest that Munster should just turn their back on these two players is absolutely the height of ignorance. Also post the slam of 2009, cast your mind back to a time where there was zero prop forwards in ireland and the irish management swore to keep the aging John Hayes in cotton wool for the world cup, he has ages, How can you complete a full game of high standard rugby at 38 but they deserve a final farewell just like the claw and gaillimh and all of the irish greats of yesteryear.

    Also on another note the world cup squad is actually quite exciting I just cant wait for it, I mean Felix jones offers us an attacking threat that Murphy had in his prime, Kearney is too conservative and with the way the game has changed since the last world cup, teams need a counter attacking fullback rather than someone who can only catch and kick. But consider the wings in bowe and horgan, earls and fitzgerald, the centres in darcy and bod, and the wingers who can also cover the centres, two serious outhalves, reddan, o leary and perhaps murray over stringer? the backrow is immense, the 4 second rows will be o connell cullen o callaghan and probably Mick over Toner, and WE FINALLY have a scrum! which means we have a platform that doesnt end up giving penalties as often giving away territory. I do think for our lineouts we seriously need Flannery back he has badly been missed, his darts are so accurate and the reason to Munsters and Irelands faltering lineout has been down to the fact we have had both hit and miss hookers in Best and Cronin. Our backs cancel out the backs in Australia but I think we have the upper hand in the pack. if we beat them and Italy, am i correct in thinking it is probably a quarter final with Scotland likely? Im not getting ahead of myself and there is alot of rugby to be played but if we can play to a level we played against england or the standard Leinster have been playing, it shouldnt be a big ask to reach the semi finals is it? Also we will beat New Zealand eventually! And what a way to do it, in a semi final of a world cup where new zealand are notorious for being chokers.

    Very optimistic!

    By Blogger Paul Gormley, at May 06, 2011 5:53 pm  

  • Kenny

    I`m not saying that Ronan is H Cup standard I am merely sating he played well in the matches he has played for Munster and in most cases he has played Magners league , given a chance maybe he could prove himself at a higher level

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 06, 2011 6:32 pm  

  • quins fan here

    Nice to see the potential we've shown for years start to bear fruit! Defense was outstanding, and with our backline we have a definite chance against Stade.

    Of course Munster weren't at there best, but a win at Thomond Park is no mean feat, so quins should definitely take credit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 06, 2011 7:23 pm  

  • Good grief. Is there anyone more knee-jerk and introspective in this world than the Irish rugby fan?

    Win, and you're the best in the world. Lose, and everything is going wrong and you're calling for the coaches'/players' heads on the block.

    By Anonymous Daaave, at May 09, 2011 5:19 pm  

  • I don't think it's a knee jerk reaction, Munster are just not producing players like they used to, they need to learn from Leinster.

    Put it this way, how many potential 2013 Lions have come through the Munster system in the last few years compared to the Leinster system?

    It's a hypothetical question and I don't mean to suggest we start naming a touring party for 2 years time but just think about it - they need to be current squad, appropriate age (ie exclude POC, BOD, DOC, ROG) world class players who if fit would be fairly sure of a place.

    I can think of 6 Leinster first team players who will be thereabouts. For Munster I would say 2 at the minute.

    By Anonymous Leinster Leader, at May 11, 2011 6:32 pm  

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