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Beirne excels but Munster now face into 'shortest turnaround we've had in years'

Johann van Graan’s side will be back at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night to take on Leinster.

MUNSTER BOSS JOHANN van Graan said his team will be able to train just once before their Guinness Pro14 semi-final clash with Leinster next Friday evening at the Aviva Stadium [KO 7.35pm].

The southern province secured their place in the final four with a 49-12 win against 13-man Connacht this afternoon in Dublin.

They now face into the daunting task of taking on Leinster, who rested their front-liners for last night’s win over Ulster, on the back of a five-day turnaround.

tadhg-beirne-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-liam-oconnor-and-conor-murray Munster scored seven tries in their win over Connacht. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s the shortest turnaround that we’ve had in years,” said van Graan after the win over Connacht.

“Those are the cards we’ve been dealt, so we’ll get back to Limerick and Cork tonight, literally have one training session and we’re back here [in Dublin] on Thursday.

“It’s all about recovery, but that’s the challenge of sport and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ll be back here on Friday evening against the champions in their back yard.”

Connacht’s two first-half red cards did allow van Graan to get key players Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Tadhg Beirne, JJ Hanrahan, and captain Peter O’Mahony off the pitch for the final quarter, while centre Damian de Allende left the field in the final 10 minutes as Munster opted to finish the game with only 14 players.

“The game was won and we just tried to protect him,” said van Graan of de Allende. “He hasn’t played a lot of rugby. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with him, we just said we’d finish the game off with 14.”

The return of Beirne in Munster’s second row was a hugely welcome feature of the win against Connacht, with the Ireland international making his first start since fracturing his ankle against Saracens last December.

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Beirne’s man-of-the-match performance was timely following the major blow of losing Springbok lock RG Snyman to a torn ACL last weekend against Leinster.

tadhg-beirne-makes-a-break Tadhg Beirne was man of the match for Munster. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Tadhg really played well,” said van Graan. “I felt it was a good performance from him and Fineen [Wycherley] and Billy [Holland] coming on to close out the game. That’s the good thing about a quality squad, you need a squad.

“It would have been great to have RG play with these guys but that’s the landscape for the next few months. We’re very happy with the performance of Tadhg and it’s good that we’ve got three locks who have played really well.”

Overall, it was a scrappy, stop-start game in which there were 37 penalties and a further three yellow cards – two of them for Munster as O’Mahony and Beirne were sin-binned just before half-time.

As such, Munster failed to get into a consistent rhythm against Connacht but their breakdown work was good again, their lineout was excellent, and they scored seven tries in total.

Already, the focus is on Friday night and the chance to topple the reigning champions.

“I was just speaking to Pete there, in the first 28 minutes when we were equal numbers on the pitch, I thought we played well,” said van Graan. “There was a lot of intent from us, we started the game well, we played against a team high in confidence.

“So we’re pretty happy with that semi-final spot.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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