Dan McGrath

Replacement Barry Murphy made the most of his 12 minutes at Stade de Saipac, twice crossing the Montauban whitewash during Munster’s comfortable Heineken Cup win. | Photos: Dan McGrath

The Stade de Saipac in Montauban is known as the ‘toilet bowl’ or, in the parochial tongue, ‘la cuvette’, once again proving how anything in French sounds better than it does ‘as Béarla’.

The name is derived from the manner in which rainwater cascades onto the pitch due to the cycling track (which hasn’t been used for 40 years) which surrounds it.

That the champions of Europe emerged from such a nature-calling monikered venue smelling only of roses was of no great surprise – much to a headline writer’s delight!

While Montauban provided Munster with a stern battle for an hour, the ERC holders ensured a home quarter-final thanks to a sterling finish which saw them emerge as 26-point winners.

The Ospreys await in the last eight come Easter weekend at Thomond Park, with Tony McGahan’s men firmly in the box seat, favourites to reach another semi-final.

Somehow, skipper Paul O’Connell delivered an even better display in France than the majestic 80 minutes produced against Sale nine days previously.

Sunday’s performance was nothing short of a masterclass from the Young Munster powerhouse, who is in the form of his life.

Seldom in recent memory has a second row so completely dominated a fixture, with O’Connell yet again producing a sparkling display of power, application and poise.

“Apart from the first 10 minutes, it did not really affect us too much,” said O’Connell, reflecting on the delayed staging of the game following Saturday’s high winds.

“We gave a ruthless and professional performance. It was top class and a real strong example of our quality as a squad.”

Not alone should O’Connell lead Ireland in the fast approaching Six Nations Championship; he should also be Ian McGeechan’s pick as Lions captain come the summer.

See The Munster Express newspaper for a more detailed report.