Tipperary’s Dave Foley and Tommy O’Donnell were among the heroes for Munster in the comprehensive 38-6 win over Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup pool clash at Thomond Park on Sunday.
The win earns Munster a home quarter final against French giants Toulouse who won’t relish the thought of a Thomond visit with Munster in this form.
James Coughlan was named Man of the Match but Foley or O’Donnell couldn’t have been far behind him. For the second huge Heineken Cup game in a row, Clonmel’s Foley was immense in the second row alongside Paul O’Connell and now seems to be making the No. 4 jersey his own.
O’Donnell has already done that with the No. 7 jersey and he copperfastened his reputation with another stunning display on Sunday. His line breaks tested the Edinburgh defence all day as he maintains Tipperary’s incredible reputation for producing back rows of the highest calibre.
O’Donnell has already followed in the footsteps of legends Alan Quinlan and Denis Leamy in winning an Irish cap on the US tour last year but he must now be in contention for a Six Nations start.
The injury to Sean O’Brien has opened the door for him with former Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan saying that the Tipp man must be a real contender for a place in the opening game against Scotland.
O’Donnell has been instrumental in securing a home quarter final with five straight wins coming off their shock opening day defeat away to Edinburgh. They never looked like losing in the return fixture on Sunday but the crucial thing was the fourth try and the bonus point that would place them fourth in the table of qualifiers - and ensure another bumper day in Limerick.
Two tries in the first 22 minutes from Coughlan and Johne Murphy put Munster in the driving seat. And, although Edinburgh came back into the game, the bonus-point was secured when captain Peter O’Mahony barged over after Conor Murray had scored the third just after half-time.
Simon Zebo and Felix Jones added further tries late on with Ian Keatley kicking four conversions.
O’Donnell played a central role in Murray’s try as he made a brilliant break into the Edinburgh ‘22 to set up the move that led to the try.
Zebo was providing the spark in midfield for Munster and the all-important fourth try arrived in the 57th minute as Casey Laulala chipped through and, with Jones haring after the ball, the Edinburgh defender swatted it out of play intentionally and referee Wayne Barnes awarded the penalty.
Keatley went for the corner and after a training ground line-out move that ended with O’Donnell making a few yards, the ball was sent left and O’Mahony blasted his way over with the TMO awarding the try after a brief delay. Keatley added the extras to make it 26-6.
Zebo scored the fifth try after 65 minutes, his first since his comeback from injury, to make it 31-6 and
Jones scored the final try in the 76th minute when he dived over in the right corner.