1. The Weather
As has been the case so often in the past, the weather conditions in Galway had a massive influence over events in the Sportsgrounds.
The rain and resulting slippy surface ensured the game would be won by the team that dominated the space 10 meters either side of the ruck.
With their bigger pack, the conditions played into Munster’s hands, as the likes of James Cronin, Rhys Marshall, Jean Kleyn, Billy Holland and Tommy O’Donnell dominated the breakdown.
2. Connacht’s Season
After a difficult start to their campaign, Connacht managed to find form and recorded memorable wins over Toulouse and Wasps in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
However, while their performances in Europe see Connacht in with a chance of making a Champions Cup quarter final, Pat Lam’s side have battle on their hands if they want to qualify for the tournament next season.
A task made all the more difficult given the injury suffered by Bundee Aki.
After their defeat to Munster, Connacht currently sit 8th on the Pro12 table, 11 points behind the Scarlets in 6th.
3. How Long Before Denis Buckley Is Called Into The Irish Squad
In the corresponding game last season, Denis Buckley and the Connacht front row destroyed Munster in a memorable 35-14 win in the Sportsgrounds.
It wasn’t the only game where Buckley dominated more illustrious opponents either. Tonight was no different, with the Roscommon loosehead attacking Munster with regularity at scrum time.
Buckley isn’t only a big scrummager, but an explosive ball carrier and is very strong over the ball in defence.
Although he might not be in Jack McGrath’s league, Buckley must at least be ahead of both Dave Kilcoyne and James Cronin in Joe Schmidt’s pecking order.
4. Ian Keatley’s Man Of The Match Performance
Apart from his late drop goal attempt, Ian Keatley enjoyed his best performance in over a year.
Although Munster’s pack made life easier than it might have been for Keatley, he played the conditions perfectly, while also showing the ambition to play heads up rugby in the lead up to Rhys Marshall’s try.
Unfortunately for Keatley, his form had nose dived since being named at fly-half for Ireland’s opening 2015 Six Nations encounter with Italy.
However if he can offer similar performances over the next few months, clubs bigger than Bayonne might come calling for Keatley.
5. Potential Tommy O’Donnell Injury
Within minutes of the final whistle being blown, Munster’s social media team tweeted that Tommy O’Donnell was “nursing an ankle injury & will need to be assessed over the next 48 hours”.
Tommy O’Donnell is nursing an ankle injury & will need to be assessed over the next 48 hours. #CONvMUN
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 31, 2016
Although there might be no cause for concern, Munster face Racing 92 in Paris next weekend, and will want to have their first choice openside available.
In the event that O’Donnell is ruled out, Conor Oliver played exceptionally well when he was introduced, and while Jack O’Donoghue might not be best suited to the openside role, he has played in the number seven shirt on previous occasions for Munster.
We review the festive fixtures and look back on 2016 – The Year That Was