"To the brave and faithful nothing is impossible"
Fourteen of Ireland coach Declan Kidney’s 34 player panel are Munster players, so what is it that makes Munster such a strong team? They have certainly come a long way since their origins in 1880, and in 1905 played against their first touring side, the famous ‘Original’ All Blacks led by Dave Gallagher, at Markets Field in Limerick. Sadly Munster were defeated 33-0. In 1938 played for the first time at what was to become one of their two stomping grounds – Thomond Park in Limerick. The other is Musgrave Park in Cork where in 1967 they became the first Irish Provincial side to defeat a major touring team when they were victorious against Australia 11-8. In 1978 they had a huge victory when they defeated the New Zealand All Blacks (12-0) – they still remain the only Irish side to have achieved such a feat.
Heineken Cup Era
The 1990’s saw Munster competing in the new European Heineken Cup, but didn’t make the quarter finals until 1998-99, and got to the finals the following season, but sadly lost to Northampton. The following season they again got to the final, but this time lost to Leicester. The following season better things were to follow when they won their first Celtic League title and in 2005-06 they won their first European Championship, by snatching the Heineken Cup from the French club Biarritz 23-19. They won the Cup again in 2008, beating Toulouse 16-13.
Thomond Park in particular is an amazing place to see Munster play. There is absolute mayhem when the team score, noise and goodwill throughout play, but complete and utter silence and reverence displayed throughout the stadium when a goal is being attempted. The Heineken Cup tends to have its highest attendances on days when Munster are playing, and the ERC’s European ranking system has placed Munster as the Number One European team due to its high standard of performance.
Munster has some amazing players, hence why so many of them have been picked to play for Ireland. Ronan O’Gara for example has been described by many as one of the best sportsmen ever to come out of Ireland. He is a brilliant kicker and manages to stay calm even at the most critical moments of the game. He has been the leading point’s scorer in Irish rugby history and is one of the top ten in the world. In Munster’s first Heineken Cup victory over Biarritz O’ Gara kicked five out of five in the 23-19 win, and he continues to wow the crowds with his performance.
The Future Of Munster Rugby
It is not just O’Gara that makes Munster a winning team – Paul O’ Connell, Gerry Flannery, Marcus Horan and Peter Stringer to name but a few, are all sensational rugby players. In 2008 Declan Kidney left Munster to take on the role of head coach of Ireland and Tony McGahan took his place – we are sure that he will help the team reach ever-greater heights
Munster Fans, Songs and Passion
Munster fans are renowned for their fanatical support of the team, getting a ticket for a Munster Heineken Cup match is near on impossible, even with the enlarged capacity at Thomond Gate. Heineken Cup finals can see over 60,000 fans traveling to support the team. Take a look at the fanatical support in videos below.