Sean McMahon reporting from the RDS.
Another year, another semi-final exit for Munster.
The southern province have exited both the Champions Cup and the Guinness PRO14 at the last-four stage this season in a repeat of what exactly occurred in the 2017/2018 campaign.
On the bare face of it, this suggests that Munster have not evolved since last season and that their ceiling, is, in fact, at this level.
In reflecting on the 80 minutes that just transpired. Both captain Peter O’Mahony and head coach Johann van Graan were singing off the same hymn sheet when they stated that their discipline was one of the main reasons why they won’t be travelling to Glasgow next weekend.
“Discipline, I thought,” van Graan said when asked what was the key difference between the sides.
“They started off in the first two minutes with a penalty. We were straight back to 3-3. I thought we played some really good rugby in the first half. They got that penalty on the stroke of half-time to give them a three-point lead. Straight after half-time, we conceded that yellow card and in the 10th minute of that yellow card they scored their try and we fell behind to 19-9 and then the penalty count was something like 13-6. You can’t concede 13 penalties in an away semi-final.”
O’Mahony was also thinking along the same lines.
“Similar to Johann. You can’t come to somewhere like Leinster and concede 13 penalties, a lot of them in crucial moments as well, either kickable or we had them under pressure in their 22 and a big release-valve.
“We were playing some great rugby as well. They certainly played well as well, I’m not taking away from that. Their ability to keep the ball going forward, certainly for some of those penalties, we were under pressure, on the back foot, but some of them were silly as well. We don’t have any arguments.”
The worrying thing from a Munster point of view is that they face into a period of uncertainty on the coaching front. The difficulties involved in bedding in new coaches due to the departures of Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery could potentially inhibit Munster’s progress.
It seems that Munster are now facing into one of the most important offseasons in recent times which will likely have a lasting impact on the province’s potential success in the next few years.