The majority were there to see O’Connell’s return to action after back surgery on New Year’s Eve and those in attendance were treated to an exciting derby tie which ebbed and flowed throughout.
The star second-row threw himself into the fray from the outset and admitted he enjoyed playing alongside the province’s younger brigade and that he came through the exercise without any difficulty.
Both sides scorned the kicking game to bring their runners into action at every opportunity in a competitive and enjoyable contest.
Leinster looked the more likely victors in the opening half during which the only try was a superb solo effort by visiting full-back Andrew Conway who, ironically, will be on Munster’s books next season.
Noel Reid also landed a penalty for the visitors but three fine kicks by JJ Hanrahan had Munster 9-7 ahead at the interval.
Munster clicked into top gear from the restart and some incisive running by Cian Bohane and Ivan Dineen led to a superb try by Ronan O’Mahony.
Hanrahan converted and Munster, who are preparing for a British & Irish Cup quarter-final away to Cornish Pirates on April 7, looked well in control at 16-7.
However Leinster were quickly back in contention when Cathal Marsh responded with a well taken try converted by Reid.
Munster’s third try came from Danny Barnes and even a yellow card for Scott Deasy couldn’t interrupt their momentum and the scoring was completed by a Reid penalty and Deasy’s clinching drop goal.
MUNSTER A: J Murphy; L O’Dea, D Barnes, I Dineen, R O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, C Sheridan; J Cronin, S Henry, J Ryan; D Foley, P O’Connell; N Ronan, S Dougall, CJ Stander.
Replacements: S Scanlon for O’Dea 37; C Bohane, M Horan, D Casey, B Hayes for Murphy, Cronin, Henry and O’Connell all half time; S Deasy for Hanrahan 54; N Scannell for Casey 62; A Cotter for Ryan 64; C Hircock for O’Mahony 66; J Holland for Barnes 68; B Slater for Sheridan 72; W Ryan for Ronan 75.
LEINSTER A: A Conway; A Boyle, J Coghlan, N Reid, S Coghlan-Murray; C Marsh, J Cooney; J O’Connell, A Dundon capt, M Moore, M Flanagan, Q Roux, B Marshall, C Gilsenan, L Auva’a.
Replacements: D Fanning for Coghlan 54; D Leavy for Roux 60; Tracey for O’Connell and J McGrath for Dundon both 63; F Carr for Boyle 65; P O’Driscoll for Cooney 70.
Referee: K Barry (IRFU).