Young Munster 10, Garryowen 6
Prendergast pounced on a ball that had squirted from a Young Munster scrum and dived over for the only try in what overall was a very poor game.
Before kick-off there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory James Fitzgerald, father of Young Munster kit manager Eddie Fitzgerald and former Munster and Ireland prop John Paco Fitzgerald. That mutual respect carried well into the game, however, because a typical Munsters–Garryowen dogfight this was not.
There was an extreme reluctance on both sides to take the ball into contact and recycle; instead the large and increasingly frustrated attendance was treated to an exhibition of aerial ping-pong. It was painful to watch.
The sides were level 3-3 at half-time, kickers Willie Staunton (YM) and Alan Gaughan exchanging penalties, but typical of the night that was in it, both missed two kicks apiece that would normally be within their compass.
It was probably a fair reflection of proceedings, though in fairness the home side did have marginally the better of proceedings. However, failure by a succession of players to hold onto the ball — in contact and out — along with some very poor passing saw move after move break down.
The second half wasn’t much of an improvement, and on a crisp, dry night, the weather was no excuse.
Munsters did have a very early chance, a hack-through from halfway by centre Andrew Burke then a swift follow-up, and he was almost through. Garryowen’s Gaughan got back in time, however, went down bravely and saved the day.
As the game progressed, it became clearer this one wasn’t going to be long for the memory. Scoreless until the final minute of the third quarter, a second Garryowen penalty (new kicker, scrum-half Fergal Lawlor doing the honours from in front of the posts, having earlier missed from the right) had the home support in good voice.
The final quarter, however, belonged to the visitors. A sin-binning for Garryowen’s Fijian number eight Lemaki Vaipulu in the 65th min (meant to play in the Rugby League international for Ireland against France tomorrow in Thomond Park but not allowed by the club) would prove costly; three times in as many minutes Munsters went to the corner from penalties, eschewing the three points and the probable draw on offer, three times their subsequent driving maul was collapsed. Finally, however, a five metre scrum, a ball squirting loose, and one very alert scrum- half.
Garryowen did come back, applied massive pressure on the Young Munster line, but the defence was stout, the visitors held out, and Garryowen still await their first home win of this fledgling season.
YOUNG MUNSTER: M Costello; C O’Hanlon, A Burke, M Kelleher, D O’Neill; W Staunton, M Prendergast; A Cotter, G Slattery, H McGrath; D Gallagher, S Duggan; I Moroney, S Hassett, N Melbourne.
Subs: R Moloney (Kelleher inj. 6); L Og Murphy (Moroney 51); G Flaherty (McGrath 51); G Burke (Slattery 56); D Payne (Hassett inj. 78).
GARRYOWEN: L Burke; I Hurley, C Hircock, A Gaughan, R O’Mahony; C Doyle, F Lawlor; M Kennedy, J Reale, D Lavery; F McKenna, M Melbourne; P Neville, K O’Gorman, L Vaipulu.
Subs: S Buckley (McKenna 44); C Hartigan (O’Gorman 45); JP Cooney (Kennedy 68).
Referee: A Hodges (MAR).