Munster will be disappointed to have relinquished the title in such a dramatic climax to what wasn’t a particularly memorable encounter. But in the end it was their lack of thrust going forward that sealed their fate.
Leinster scored the only try of the game and that was enough in a very tight match.
JJ Hanrahan had his chance to win it for Munster but sent an injury time penalty outside the target and Leinster, deservedly, survived to secure a place in the final against either Bedford Blues or Newcastle Falcons, who meet in the second semi-final this afternoon.
It was an interesting if uneventful opening half, with both sides confined to kicking chances. Yes, there was a hint of a try from time to time, and for Munster just the once when Hanrahan made a fine break but had no support on his undefended right.
Leinster twice had overlaps but they were from distance and they took either the wrong option or lost out through a misdirected pass. They did, however, manage to sneak through to a 12-6 half-time lead courtesy of an excellent goal kicking display from centre Noel Reid.
The inside centre kicked his side into the lead inside two minutes before JJ Hanrahan hit back for Munster in the 12th minute.
Reid went on to kick further penalties in the 22nd, 26th and 38th minutes while Hanrahan responded prior to the fourth to leave Munster well in with a shout on a cold but balmy evening at Dooradoyle.
Leinster undoubtedly enjoyed the better of the third quarter, even if Hanrahan narrowed the gap to three points with a third-minute penalty.
Showing aggression with ball in hand, Leinster did everything to break down the Munster defence which, in fairness, was rock solid and the home side yielded but one kickable penalty opportunity in that spell, Reid sending his fifth attempt to the right of the uprights.
Munster equalised when Hanrahan kicked a further penalty in the 63rd minute but Sam Coghlan-Murray gave Leinster the edge again when he darted in at the corner for the only try of the game in the 69th minute.
Yes, Munster stormed back and Hanrahan narrowed the gap to a couple of points eight minutes from the end and in injury time he had a chance to seal the deal, but his well-struck effort drifted harmlessly to the left and wide, and Leinster held out for a deserved triumph.
MUNSTER A: S Scanlon, D Barnes, I Dineen, C Bohane, R O’Mahony, JJ Hanrahan, D Williams, J Cronin, S Henry (captain), A Cotter, D Foley, I Nagle, N Ronan, CJ Stander, B O’Mahony.
Replacements. S Dougall for B O’Mahony, M Horan for Cotter (both 52), S Deasy for Bohane, D Casey for Henry (both 68).
LEINSTER A: F Carr, A Boyle, A Byrne, N Reid, S Coghlan-Murray, C Marsh, L McGrath, J O’Connell, A Dundon, M Bent, T. Denton, M Flanagan, B Marshall, L Auva’a, C Gilsenan (captain).
Replacements: D Leavy for Marshall (injured, 23), T Byrne for Denton (73), M mc\Grath for Crosbie (injured 76), A Griggs for Boyle (81).
Referee: I Tempest (RFU)