07 Mar 14
Munster A just edged out Connacht Eagles 32-26 in an eight-try thriller at Dooradoyle this afternoon.
"It was a big highlight in my career, probably the biggest day in my life in rugby terms. It is also important to mention the impact and energy we gleaned from our fans in the stadium. The support was outstanding." Ulster Coach Brian McLaughlin.
"You need to give the opposition credit. I thought Ulster were terrific today right across the park. They controlled the scoreboard and they controlled field position in that first half." Munster coach Tony McGahan.
"Our defence won it - I don't think they had a line break in the whole game and as a team we were outstanding in that area. It was a great team effort and we've put out a statement to European rugby." Man of the Match Stephen Ferris.
"Munster tried, oh how they tried. They came back from 19 points down after 31 minutes to dominate the rest of the match, but a combination of young players short on Heineken Cup experience, and older players who now struggle to reach previous heights, left them somewhat short." Mike Averis, The Guardian Newspaper.
"Our start was something special. To be 19 points up against a great side like Munster, you've got to do something special to lose it and we nearly did, with the yellow card. But hats off to the guys, to come back and get the victory makes it a special day." Ulster captain Johann Muller.
"With a superior scrum, Munster still had enough possession and time to complete another of their escapology acts, but despite one well-worked try before half-time, their attacking game became more desperate and shapeless. They couldn't generate ruck ball, where Ulster tacklers cleverly delayed their release and the next men worked their hands onto the ball with little by way of punishment from Poite. Not for the first time you wondered if Peter Stringer's zippy service off the bench would have helped. Furthermore, some of their alignment was very flat without enough variety, while their back three didn't click at all. - Gerry Thornley, The Irish Times.
"It was an extraordinary collective performance that saw Ulster lead 19-0 after half an hour and then find the resolve to hold out as Munster tore back at them and a feral home support waited for them to wilt. That it never happened is testament to the work McLaughlin has done with this group of players and the upshot is that he has elevated a province of perennial underachievers to the status of second Irish province -- a shift in the balance of power in Irish rugby.It may not be an irreversible shift, but it is certainly a seismic one and now Munster, about to appoint a new coach to replace Tony McGahan, must rebuild on the solid base laid by the Australian. Hugh Farrelly, The Irish Independent.
"Match official Mr Poite, who seems destined to be identified as neither friend nor countryman, whatever about being a Romain, was the antithesis of a homer. The technical term is refereeing one side at the breakdown; the less technical term being used in the stands and on the terraces would be described as post-post-watershed in broadcasting terms, but Ulster's first-half primacy wasn't entirely down to the Frenchman." - Michael Moynihan, The Irish Examiner.
""I always felt it was going to be a tight game. And from what I've seen of them (Ulster) this year, it wasn't such a shock." - Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley.
"When Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin was a skills coach with Ireland under Eddie O'Sullivan, his speciality was the breakdown and he was recognised by the Irish players as one of the best in the business. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Ulster were so competitive in that crucial phase of the game where they killed Munster's momentum at source." Donal Lenihan, The Irish Examiner.
"Good teams convert points when they're near the line. But good teams don't concede points when they're there and that's what Ulster did." - Munster captain Paul O'Connell.