In emerging winners by 21-14, Garryowen stayed in touch with pacesetters Lansdowne, albeit two points behind the Dublin side, while Young Munster had to be content with a losing bonus. The outcome largely hinged on a controversial penalty try awarded to Garryowen by referee Sean Gallagher five minutes into the second half that moved them 16-6 ahead.
“This was a game we had earmarked because we lost our last seven matches to Munsters, four of them in the AIL, so we knew we had to come here today and stand up and be counted,” said coach Tom Tierney, the former Munster and Ireland scrum-half.
“What better place to come to than Tom Clifford Park to make a point and obviously it was also important to us to stay in touch with Lansdowne.”
Garryowen enjoyed a monopoly of possession in the opening stages and out-half Jamie Gavin put them six points in front after eight minutes with a couple of penalties.
Brian Haugh for Munsters had the misfortune to hit the upright with a couple of close-range penalties before eventually finding the target after hooker James Rael become the first of three Garryowen players to be yellow carded after a high tackle.
Nevertheless, a powerful forward surge led to a try for towering second row Aaron McCloskey that put Garryowen 11-3 ahead at the interval.
Haugh narrowed the gap immediately after the resumption before the awarding of the penalty try after a collapsed scrum on the Munsters line. Gavin converted and then landed another penalty to push his side 21-6 in front. After that, however, Munsters took almost total control.
Wing-forward Mark Rowley got the touchdown after a close-range line-out and then two more Garryowen men, Matt Jarvis and Conor Hartigan, saw yellow as the home side piled on the pressure. Haugh’s penalty brought them within seven points but in spite of their diminished numbers, a stout Garryowen defence did enough to hold on for a significant victory.
Garryowen: R O’Mahony; L Bourke, J McInerney, C Doyle, C O’Shea; J Gavin, N Cronin; R Brosnan, J Rael, J P Cooney, A Kennedy, M Hanrahan, A Kavanagh, A Kavanagh, D Sherry.
Rolling replacements: D Rowley, P O’Shea, C Hartigan, M Jarvis, G Ryan.
Young Munster: C O’Hanlon; S McAuley, M Doyle, L Kuntz, D O’Neill; G Quinn-McDonogh, B Haugh; G Flaherty, G Slattery, D Cantillon, S Duggan, D Gallagher, M Rowley, L Russell, N Melbourne. Rolling replacements: C Liston, G Burke, H McGrath, D Bannon, M Prendergast.
Referee: S Gallagher.