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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 13:23 GMT
Munster crush Ulster
John Hayes scores the opening try in the Celtic League semi-final against Ulster
Munster's John Hayes touches down for the first try

Munster 42-10 Ulster

Munster coasted to an easy win to reach the Celtic League final for the second year running.

Ulster never recovered from the 11th minute dismissal of Justin Fitzpatrick for punching and by half-time they were trailing by 25 points.

Munster's five-try victory gives them the opportunity to make up for losing the inaugural Celtic League final last season to Leinster.

Fitzpatrick's dismissal was for continuing to punch after the whistle when a melee broke out.

International flyhalf helped Munster reach their second Celtic League final
Ronan O'Gara was in fine kicking form

Munster's Donnacha O'Callaghan was deemed guilty of having started the fighting and was sin-binned for 10 minutes.

Ulster were always underdogs for this match but they completely crumbled under Munster's first-half onslaught.

Munster ran in three tries in the right-hand corner through John Hayes (25 minutes), Alan Quinlan (28) and John Kelly (39).

Ronan O'Gara, who had earlier scored a couple of penalties, landed two of the tricky touchline conversions.

David Humphreys kicked a penalty for Ulster who trailed 28-3 at the interval.

Ulster had most of the second half possession as they battled to regain some dignity.

But Munster, who had Frankie Sheehan and Alan Quinlan yellow carded in the second half, scored the next try through Mike Mullins on 59 minutes. O'Gara scored a simple conversion.

Ulster kept plugging away and eventually crossed Munster's line on 72 minutes with Humphreys getting in under the posts and converting himself.

Big blow

But Munster had the final say with veteran Mick Galwey, on as a replacement, scoring a last-minute try which was converted by Killian Keane.

Ulster's Simon Best, who came on as a replacement, felt the early dismissal was a big blow to the northern province.

"It was always going to be difficult with 14 men and to some extent we panicked a bit when it happened," said the prop forward.

"In the last 20 minutes of the first half we conceded a few tries which broke us.

"We regrouped in the second half, put bodies on the line and kept the score down."

Munster: J Staunton; J Kelly; M Mullins, J Holland, A Horgan; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, P O'Connell, D O'Callaghan, J Williams, capt, A Foley, A Quinlan.
Replacements (from): J Blaney, M Cahill, M O'Driscoll or M Galwey D Leamy or E Halvey, M Prendergast, K Keane, M Lawlor.

Ulster: B Cunningham; J Topping; S Stewart, A Larkin, S Coulter; D Humphreys, capt, N Doak; J Fitzpatrick, M Sexton, R Kempson, G Longwell, J Davidson, W Brosnihan, N McMillan, T McWhirter.
Replacements: S Best, P Shields, M Blair, A Ward, K Campbell, S Young, J Cunningham.

 BBC Sport's Nigel Starmer-Smith
"Munster were different class"
 Ulster's Simon Best
"It was always going to be difficult"

The final



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