Fading Trophy prospects for Munster

Trophy prospects are appearing remote for Munster. Photo: Nic Bothma.

A NEW YEAR beckons but the prospect of the Red Army staging an invasion of the eloquent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London for the Champions Cup Final on May 25 is beginning to fade.

Munster’s failure in conceding scores late in the game is proving costly and they are going to have to reap maximum points in their two remaining games to keep adrift in this Investec European Champions Cup.

Some sides would have by now thrown in the towel, but the club’s motto of “nothing is impossible to the brave” could yet provide their inspiration to survive.

Occupying fourth place in the five-team Group 3, the Reds travel to France on January 13 to take on bottom team Toulon. The following week, Munster will host Northampton Saints at Thomond Park, a match that could yet be a decider for the home side.

The current season appears to be flying by and, from mid-January, there are only three scheduled games in Thomond Park remaining (in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Musgrave Park).

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By early March, Munster will know their fate, but if they can muster up a blistering run of results, as they did last season, they could well be in the mix.

It is in their genes to lift their game when the chips are down and the trip to Stade Felix Mayol (Toulon) will show what this squad of players are really made of.

While all the focus is on the provinces during the season, the club game continues to provide Saturday entertainment. A Limerick club has not lifted the AIL trophy since 2009 when Shannon were crowned champions for the ninth time.

Times have changed, the pendulum has swung towards the capital and clubs have struggled. Last season, Young Munster reached the play-offs of 1A and this season (now at its mid-way point) they are once again in good form and sitting in sixth place in the league table. Shannon have struggled a bit of late too and are in ninth place while Garryowen, in 1B, have moved to seventh.

In 2A, UL Bohemians and Old Crescent are both fighting for promotion, while in 2C Bruff too are in qualification contention.