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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019

A brief history of the Munster v Leinster rivalry in 5 classic matches

The pair have had some titanic tussles down the years.

There is no love lost between the two sides.
There is no love lost between the two sides.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THERE WAS NO real danger of the Leinster v Munster rivalry waning. Afterall, this will be the 96th meeting between the red and blue sides of Ireland since the start of the inter-provincial series in 1946.

But the eastern province’s fourth European Cup triumph last weekend — coupled with Munster’s quest for a first piece of silverware in seven years — ensures that Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final could be an even feistier affair than normal.

With that in mind, we took a little trip down memory lane to dig out some of our favourite clashes between these best of enemies over the years and picked five that perfectly sum up the rivalry.

If Saturday can live up to any of these, we’re in for a thrilling 80 minutes.

2001 – Celtic League final – Leinster 24-20 Munster

Keith Gleeson and Martin Cahill Keith Gleeson of Leinster hands off Munster's Martin Cahill during the 2001 final. Source: INPHO

The very first Celtic League encounter between the two sides was also the first-ever final of that competition.

Leinster would play most of the game with 14 men after Eric Miller saw the line in the 25th minute.

Despite three tries from the men in red, Leinster’s Nathan Spooner kicked his side to a first victory of the new millennium against Munster and a welcome piece of silverware.

2006 – Heineken Cup semi-final – Munster 30-6 Leinster

Source: CR's Video Vaults/YouTube

The blue tide was rising in 2006 after Leinster pulled off a remarkable 41-35 away win to Touslouse in the quarter-finals.

However, it was Declan Kidney’s outfit who would reach the final — and win the Heineken Cup that season — after a shockingly one-sided game.

If the game could be summed up by one play, it was Ronan O’Gara’s nonchalant hand-off on Mal O’Kelly on his way to crossing the whitewash.

2009 – Heineken Cup semi-final – Leinster 25-6 Munster

Gordon D'Arcy celebrates his try with Shane Horgan and Luke Fitzgerald Jonathan Sexton and Ronan O'Gara exchange words. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

This game is responsible for, perhaps, the most iconic photograph in Irish rugby.

After Gordon D’Arcy’s try, Jonathan Sexton let O’Gara — his soon-to-be rival for the Ireland number 10 jersey — know exactly how much the win meant to him.

This game represented a changing of the guard in a way, as Leinster not only knocked off the defending champions but also secured a first European Cup of their own a few weeks later.

2010 -Magners League – Leinster 16-15 Munster

Source: mleague2009/YouTube

This may have been ‘just’ a Magners League game, but it’s worth remembering that Munster didn’t lose at home during this era. Except when they played Leinster.

O’Gara scored five penalties for the hosts, but a try from Rob Kearney, a conversion and penalty from Sexton and a Fergus McFadden three-pointer left the game finely poised heading into the final quarter.

Sexton then held his nerve with a 65th minute penalty to give his side the narrowest of wins.

2016 – Guinness Pro12 – Munster 29-17 Leinster

Conor Murray 26/12//2016 Conor Murray offloads during Munster's last win over Leinster. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The odds may be stacked against Munster this weekend, but they can look back on this game two years ago.

Coming into this St. Stephen’s Day clash with an undefeated home record for 2016, Munster put on a masterclass of attacking rugby.

Just four points separated the sides at half-time, but men in red cut loose after the break to secure a bonus-point win and top spot in the Pro-12.

Bank of Ireland have taken their name off the Leinster jerseys for their Guinness Pro14 semi-final clash with Munster and given the Irish Heart Foundation the opportunity to appear there for a day.

Please support the Irish Heart Foundation so they can continue their life-changing work. Text ‘4HEART’ to 50300 to donate €4. 

Text costs €4. Irish Heart Foundation will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278

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