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O’Callaghan Set For His 150th Cap

October 8, 2009 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

O’Callaghan Set For His 150th Cap

Donncha O’Callaghan will make his 63rd Heineken Cup appearance and win his 150th competitive Munster cap when Munster take the field against Nothampton Saints in Franklin’s Gardens tomorrow evening.

Along the way the former Ireland Schools, Under 19, Under 21 and Under 25 international has also toured twice with the Lions and enjoyed the rare distinction of captaining the most famous touring side in the world.

He was on the bench back in 2000 when Munster played Northampton Saints in that Twickenham final but at that stage of his career felt as much a spectator as anyone in the stand.

"I was just new in the squad then," he says, "so much in awe of lads like Gallimh, Claw, John Langford, KK (Killian Keane), Axel," and he laughs, "even Rog and he was only in a year ahead of me."

Mick Galwey and John Langford (legends he says) were the locks that day and two years later in Cardiff Galwey was partnered by Paul O’Connell with Mick O’Driscoll the back up.

But O’Callaghan was prepared to bide his time, learn his trade and when Munster were beaten 13-12 by Toulouse in 2003 he was O’Connell’s partner. And again the following year in the semi-final defeat by London Wasps in Lansdowne Road when he was yellow carded- wrongly -and honestly admits, "I felt I left everyone down that day. My buddies, my family, the supporters."

In fact he rarely leaves anyone down and his dedication and professionalism has seen him achieve everything the game has to offer, Magners League honours, two Heineken Cup medals, several Triple Crowns, a Grand Slam and captaincy of the Lions.

But even more than that. He’s earned the respect of colleagues and opponents.

On Saturday he’ll set about his business in much the same way as he does for every game. "This competition is special. It’s something that’s very close to Munster supporters and we know that. Maybe its because at the start off we didn’t do so well and people thought sure God love them. Then we won a few games, got to a final and just wouldn’t let go. And our supporters bought into it. They’re brilliant. and thats why" – and it’s a recurring themewith him – "we feel we left them down last year. And last weekend as well."

So on Saturday the chance to start to make amends ?

"Northampton are a smashing side. Not unlike us. A proud provincial side. Great support. Great tradition. A good footballing side. And they dont lose too often at Franklin’s Gardens. We’re coming off a disappointing result last weekend. We know what we have to do. We’ve worked hard this week and hopefully we’ll give a good account of ourselves."

Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, L Mafi, J de Villiers, K Earls; R O’Gara, T O’Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, T Buckley; D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell capt; A Quinlan, D Wallace, D Leamy. Replacements: D Fogarty, J Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley, M O’Driscoll, N Ronan, D Ryan, P Stringer I Dowling.

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Munster Just Come Up Short

October 10, 2009 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Munster Just Come Up Short

Munster came within inches of completing a remarkable comeback but in the end lost 31-27 in front of a capacity Franklin’s Garden crowd.

At one stage in the second half they trailed 28-14 and were being forced to defend heroically to prevent the home side scoring a fourth try.

But prevent them they did and two Ronan O’Gara penalties and his superb conversion of Tomas O’Leary 67th minute try left just one point separating the sides.

Shane Geraghty landed a simple 74th minute penalty to leave Munster needing a try to snatch victory and only an inexplicible decision from referee Christophe Berdos stopped them claiming what would have been a remarkable win.

Awarded a penalty five metres out in injury rime, they drove for the line, were stopped and as they re-grouped, two Northampton players blatantly came in from the side, the French official deeming that a scrum to Munster was the sanction and blew the full time whistle as they’re wasn’t time for a scrum.

Lapses in concentration however, each side of half time were what cost Munster. At 14-14 in first time injury time Northampton were awarded apenalty, Munster turned their backs and Geraghty took a quick tap to score a seven pointer when it should have been just three.

Chris Ashton scored his second try of the evening just after the break, again the Munster defence caught flat footed, but to their great credit they stormed back and they could have been few complaints if they had snatched victory in that last play.


Munster: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi (Ian Dowling 60 min), Jean de Villiers, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley (Julien Brugnaut 66 min); Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell capt; Alan Quinlan Donncha Ryan 64 min), David Wallace, Denis Leamy. Replacements not used: Denis Fogarty, , Darragh Hurley, Mick O’Driscoll, Niall Ronan, Peter Stringer.

Northampton Saints: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Jon Clarke, James Downey; Bruce Reihana, Shane Geraghty; Lee Dickson, Soane Tongauiha, Dylan Hartley, Santiago Bonorino; Courtney Lawes, Juandre Kruger; Phil Dowson, Neil Best, Roger Wilson. Replacements: Brett Sharman, Regardt Dreyer, Brian Mujati, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Mark Easter, Alan Dickens, Steve Myler, Chris Mayor.

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