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Munster - The Perfect Team!

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    Munster - The Perfect Team!

    What Makes Munster the Perfect Team for Europe

    Brendan Fanning: Munster could win a record ninth game in a row in the Heineken Cup tomorrow; this is why they're so good.

    Guardian, 15th December 2006


    The biggest factor in their favour. Eight of the team that will start tomorrow's match at home to Cardiff Blues, where a win will set a Heineken Cup record of 12 in a row, ran out against Leicester in the 2002 final. Add in Marcus Horan and Anthony Foley, who should be fit in January for the last two pool games, and you have the hardest core of any team in the competition. They could not find the panic button if they wanted to. Against Saracens in 2000 the game seemed to have been stolen but they worked a winning try in the last couple of minutes. In Newport the next season they were 15 points down after 20 minutes and came back to win with 15 points to spare. Their greatest escape, however, was against Gloucester in 2003 when - in what since has been released on DVD as the "Miracle Match" - they needed to win by 27 points and with four tries more than their opponents. They did so.

    The Brand

    More than a third of the match squad in Cardiff last weekend were imports of one sort or another but there was no weakening of the identity. "In Munster we're fairly careful about who we recruit," says the hooker Jerry Flannery. "It's important that new guys being brought in to the squad buy into what we have here, that they don't dilute the spirit or the ethic. If a fella isn't pulling his weight he'll be found out fairly quickly. Luckily everyone is going well at the moment and it's important that it continues." Not least for the cash it generates. Canterbury sold over 80,000 Munster shirts last season, a good number on the back of the Heineken Cup win. It remains to be seen if Munster's commercial operation can exploit the brand in the global Irish diaspora.

    Ronan O'Gara

    Much of the Heineken Cup is conducted on grey days and on heavy surfaces, where the premium on a footballing fly-half is greatest. O'Gara is now so far out on his own that it is hard to put a value on what he brings to the team. His form is the best of his career and in wretched conditions in this campaign against Leicester and Cardiff he produced a goal-kicking return of nine from 11, with a drop-goal thrown in. As important is his leadership. Along with Paul O'Connell he is the man players look to and, with his confidence high, he enjoys the pressure.

    Thomond Park

    Some stadiums are as imposing empty as full. Thomond Park is not one of them. It's a drab mixture of uncovered terracing and one well-ventilated stand. Fill it on match day, however, and it is transformed. The combination of noise and closeness of the crowd to the pitch creates a powerful force behind the home team. Many of the big- name teams in English and French rugby have gone to Limerick determined to stand up, only to fall in a heap. Others have been beaten before they arrive. Ultimately, all go the same way. As it happens, the facilities are dreadful and the new model - on which Munster hope work will start next year - will be welcome.


    Munster are a rarity in professional sport in the remarkably close bond between the team and its supporters. Since 2000, when the team got to their first final, the support base has exploded but without creating an army of followers miles removed from the players. Many fans know players personally or have some connection, however tenuous, that allows them to plug into the operation. It is part of the team script that the brigades at away games be thanked specifically. You may dread the opening bars of The Fields of Athenry but, if you are a Munster player on a
    “Well done, Paul – that was some performance by Munster. A famous victory!”
    <font color=RED>“It was unreal!”</font>
    “and what about those wonderful supporters, Paul – what have you got to say about them?”
    <font color=RED>“they were unreal!”</font>
    “Well congratulations Paul – you’ve been voted man of the match today. How does that feel?”
    <font color=RED>Unreal</font>”

    The comments are a must read. Especially the Lordkilmainham dude/dudette (I can't help but feel that blogger is known to us......)
    Romani ite Domun


      "Record ninth"? Twelfth.
      Munster - Incessant Perfervidity
      "Ireland Will Choke" - Jeremy Guscott