Sport

Munster cruise to last 16 | O' Donoghue Star of the match

Munster have booked their place in the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup thanks to a 45-7 demolition of Wasps in Thomond Park.

Tries from Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Jack O' Donoghue, Jeremy Loughman, and Rory Scannell all helped Johan Van Graan's side on their way to what was an impressive end to their group stage campaign.

Ben Healy who got the nod to start at out-half was reliable over the kicking tee, slotting every chance he was offered. While Jack Crowley who entered the fray in the 54th minute was also two-for-two.

While it's been a few weeks of doom and gloom around Thomond Park following the news of the head coach's impending departure, the biggest attendance in some time of 13,047 was treated to a bonus-point win wrapped up within 50 minutes.

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Waterford's own O' Donoghue crossed over the line in the first half-hour and would go on to claim the star of the match for his efforts.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game the stand-in captain was delighted to get past the group stages and mark their name down to face Exeter in April, "Yeah, I thought it was an incredible performance today. We really had a few things to prove and build on from last week, and I think we certainly did it this week. It's great to come through the group stages with a bonus point today. We're delighted now we're moving on to the next stage."

O' Donoghue joined an illustrious group on Sunday. He is now the youngest player to reach 150 caps for the province at the age of 27 and he earned that on a day where he put in one of his quintessential tireless performances in the red jersey.

"To even get one cap for my home province - but to get 150 It's incredible. A special day for myself and my family in the crowd. I'll cherish this one certainly for time to come".

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While Munster have come in for criticism in recent weeks due to some less than thrilling outings, they still remain well placed in the URC table and have now earned their passage to the business end of Europe. While they have not excited, they have been putting in steady performances and earning wins along the way - something O' Donoghue says needs to be recognised.

"Look, people can say what they want. They're not in our inner circle. They don't know what we go through in the meetings and stuff like that. We go out here every week to try and perform to the best of our ability and I think we showed that today."

Elsewhere in the weekend's fixtures, Leinster battered Bath 64-7 while Connacht were six points short of Staid Francais and Ulster eeked past Clermont 34-31.

All four provinces are now through the groups with the first legs underway between April 8th - 10th.

Munster meet the 2019-2020 Champions Exeter, Ulster will need to deal with the defending champions Toulouse, while it's an all Irish affair with Leinster and Connacht who have been drawn against one another.

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