Leading by just 12 points at half time, Munster, for the third successive time, again produced a superbly controlled second half performance to end up 17-0 winners over Connacht at Musgrave Park
Man of the Match Paul Warwick kicked four first half penalties and a try from Denis Leamy in the final quarter saw off what had been never less than a courageous and committed Connacht performance.
Munster played with the elements at their back in the first half, the driving wind and rain blowing from the Sunday’s Well end of the ground made playing conditions extremely difficult for both sides.
Although they enjoyed the most of the territorial advantage Munster could not breach the Connacht defence and the visitors looked lively when they had the ball, only denied a try by a great tackle from full back Denis Hurley.
Trailing by just 12 points at the break, Connacht must have fancied their chances but they simply didn’t have the ball long enough to threaten. And on the rare occasions that they did, the Munster defence was impressive as the Connacht one had been in the opening half.
Leamy’s try to seal the outcome was created by a good Warwick break and support from Tony Buckley and Federico Pucciariello and although Connacht came hunting for a consolation try in the closing stages, Munster refused to give it up, determined by then that Kelly’s night would not be marred in any way.
Munster: Denis Hurley; J Kelly, K Lewis, L Mafi, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; F Pucciariello, F Sheahan, T Buckley; D O’Callaghan, D Ryan; D Leamy, N Ronan, A Foley. Replacements: M Horan for Pucciariello (73 mins), B Murphy for Dowling (75 mins), J Coughlan for Ronan, Gerry Hurley for Kelly (both 80 mins).
Connacht: G Duffy; D Yapp, D Riordan, A Wynne, O Treviranus; A Dunne, C O’Loughlin; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Loughney; M Swift, D Gannon; M McCarthy, J O’Connor, J Muldoon. Replacements: C McPhillips for Treviranus (26 mins), C Rigney for Muldoon (40 mins), A Farley for Gannon (44 mins), A Browne for Swift (58 mins), B McGovern for Loughney (71 mins).
Referee: C Stanley (IRFU).