Classy Carbery leads the way in Munster romp
By Daire Walsh
ATHY native Joey Carbery marked his first Thomond Park start in considerable style on Saturday evening – earning the man-of-the-match award in Munster’s 64-7 demolition of Ulster in the Guinness PRO14.
While erratic away displays have led to reversals against Glasgow Warriors and Cardiff Blues in the opening weeks of the new campaign, the home form of Munster continues to be imperious. Carbery announced his arrival for the Red Army as a second-half replacement in their facile 48-0 victory over Toyota Cheetahs on September 1 in Thomond, before contributing 15 points in a similarly emphatic triumph at the expense of the Ospreys just under a fortnight later.
That encounter took place at Irish Independent Park, so this was a golden opportunity for Carbery to stamp his authority in the Limerick arena. Eadestown’s Tadhg Beirne also retained his place in the Reds’ starting line-up for their maiden interprovincial clash of 2018/19.
They faced an Ulster side that were on a four-game unbeaten streak – or nine if you stretched it back to the tail end of last season. Dan McFarland’s charges were never afforded a chance to settle, however, as Dan Goggin and Tommy O’Donnell crossed over inside the opening 10 minutes of the action.
Carbery was on hand to supply the extras for both of these five-pointers, and he also converted Goggins’ second on 37 minutes. An earlier penalty by the former Ardscoil na Trionoide student had helped to create further daylight between the teams, while O’Donnell also broke free of a struggling Ulster defence to enhance his try-scoring tally on the half-hour.
As well as having a 29-0 interval buffer at their disposal, Munster had already wrapped up a bonus point. A sharp Darren Cave finish on the resumption offered the visitors some form of solace, but Peter O’Mahony eventually cancelled it out at the opposite end.
Carbery capped off an outstanding individual showing with a stunning seven-point salvo in the 62nd-minute – giving him a 15-point haul for the second time this term – and there were additional tries from Sam Arnold, Keith Earls and Alex Wootton in the final-quarter.
Meanwhile, there were mixed fortunes for Kildare duo James Tracy (Kill) and Craig Ronaldson (Ballymore Eustace) at the Sportsground on the same day. Tracy was a 56th-minute replacement for Leinster try-scorer Sean Cronin, whereas Ronaldson deputised for Connacht fly-half Jack Carty in the closing moments of a 20-3 loss for the home team.
After Carty had kicked the westerners into an early lead, Garry Ringrose and Cronin touchdowns acted in perfect symmetry with Jonathan Sexton’s 10-point haul off the kicking tee for the victorious Blues.
On Friday evening at Energia Park, Jimmy O’Brien and Adam Byrne on the scoresheet for Leinster ‘A’ in a 53-7 success over Ospreys Development in the Celtic Cup.
This newly-formed competition is split into an Ireland Conference and a Wales Conference – with Leinster currently ahead of rivals Munster on score difference in the former.