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Munster will be back to Stand Up and Fight
Raise the Roof for an Outstanding Team
5 May 2009, 1:12 pm
By Dermot Keyes - Munster Express
"Munster are Magners League champions and deservedly so. They've produced some superb rugby over the course of an arduous campaign, having lost only six matches out of 25 in league and cup action." - Dermot Keyes of the Munster Express
The Magners League doesn't resonate with fans as the Heineken Cup does, of that there is no doubt, but given how well teams from the Celtic nations have fared in recent European campaigns, it certainly deserves some credit.

The English Premiership out-hypes the Magners League in profile terms due to the marketing gurus at Sky Sports, but I would challenge anyone to claim that the English top flight produces better rugby.

The play-offs certainly add bite to the Premiership's closing stages and avoid the dead rubbers which we've had for the past couple of weeks in the Magners.

And while play-offs have become the norm in many championships (including the AIL), one cannot avoid the sense of injustice that befalls a team which tops the table at the end of the 'regular' season but isn't crowned champions.

After all, a league in its purest sense rewards the team which has produced the most consistent match winning brand of rugby over the course of an entire season. The team at the top is the one which deserves the pot, I would have thought.

Munster are Magners League champions and deservedly so. They've produced some superb rugby over the course of an arduous campaign, having lost only six matches out of 25 in league and cup action.

The Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Leinster effectively stuck a pin in the season, ending the province's two-in-a-row hopes and, unfortunately, removing some of the sheen from their league win.

But life goes on. Another season will soon be upon us, a couple of familiar faces will say goodbye and a few new ones will be welcomed into Fortress Thomond.

The challenge to climb Everest in 09/10 is, no doubt, already the top item on Tony McGahan's 'to do' list.

The Leinster defeat will burn slowly in many a Munster soul over the summer and they'll be hell-bent on regaining their European crown come the new campaign. It will probably consume a few players and that will permeate through the whole group. Munster is wounded, but far from mortally.

That's why it's incumbent on the Thomond Park faithful to get behind Munster from the off as they play host to the Ospreys in this end of season finale.

Yes, it would have been wonderful were this the final bow ahead of another great Heineken Cup final weekend, but sometimes you don't always get what you want in life.

That's what makes a big, booming atmosphere a must in Limerick tomorrow night. With outstanding servants including Anthony Horgan Frankie Sheahan, Mike Prendergast and crowd favourite Federico Pucciariello set to feature in red for the last time, as well as John O'Sullivan and Kieran Lewis the heartiest of send-offs is called for.

These lads have run through walls for the cause for the best part of a decade at the highest level.

They've enjoyed ups and downs along the way but they have always enjoyed the full backing of a faithful group of fans that have followed them throughout Europe.

Rugby is a tough sport, a brutal sport, an unforgiving sport. But it's a tremendous bonding exercise, not only between players as a unit, but between players and fans, all driven by the same goal.

While Paul O'Connell will end the club season not lifting the silverware he had his heart set on, every single Munster fan owes it to him and his team mates to salute their Magners League success with vim, energy and vigour.

So wear your jersey with pride, hold your flag high and send the province's finest into the summer with 'The Fields' and 'Stand up and Fight' ringing in their ears. It's the least they deserve.

Munster Rugby would ask all supporters to please remain in Thomond Park after the final whistle to witness the Magners League Presentation which will take place out on the pitch, and the team would greatly appreciate the support as they raise the trophy for all of Munster.

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Team
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1Leinster Rugby19141469
2Ulster Rugby19140565
3Munster Rugby19140563
4Glasgow Warriors18140460
5Ospreys19111756
6Scarlets1991945
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