Saturday’s showdown between Leinster and Munster will be the 33rd interprovincial derby since the creation of the Celtic League 15 years ago.
The Boys in Blue lead the head-to-head 17-14 so far, with one draw
Leinster go into Saturday’s home match ahead of their rivals in the GUINNESS PRO12 table but on the back of a narrow loss to leaders Connacht last weekend.
The Red Army, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their comfortable 47-0 victory over struggling Zebre on Friday.
That win puts Munster in the play-off places with just four games left in the season, meaning Anthony Foley’s men will have more than just provincial pride to play for when the teams face-off at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
To celebrate the Celtic League’s 15th anniversary we take a look back at five of the best derby games in the competition.
Leinster 24-20 Munster, December 15, 2001 – Celtic League Final
Reggie Corrigan lifted the inaugural Celtic League trophy as Leinster staged a fine comeback in an exhilarating final.
Leinster rallied from 15-6 down early in the second half with two tries to seal the title at Lansdowne Road.
What made the win even more impressive was the fact Matt Williams’ side played more than half the game with 14 men following Eric Miller’s sending off in the first half for a wild kick.
Anthony Foley started the scoring for Munster after Rob Henderson crashed through two tackles to feed the trailing back-rower.
Another Henderson burst set up Munster’s second try with John O’Neill touching down to give The Red Army a 12-6 half-time lead.
The boot of Leinster fly-half Nathan Spooner kept them within touching distance though and Gordon D’Arcy’s try gave them the lead for the first time with less than 15 minutes to play.
Brian O’Driscoll’s chip and chase set up his side’s second try for Shane Horgan and despite Anthony Horgan touching down for Munster in injury time, it was not enough.
Leinster 30-0 Munster, October 3, 2009
The biggest win for either side in the Celtic League era came in a season the sides met three times, with the Leinster men emerging victorious on each occasion.
The early-season encounter was a sign of things to come as current Australia head coach Michael Cheika orchestrated a demolition of the men in red.
It was the first time Munster had failed to score a point on a Celtic League fixture and to compound their misery prop John Hayes saw red for an apparent stamp on his opposite number Cian Healy in the second half.
The boot of Jonathan Sexton contributed greatly to his side’s victory, kicking three penalties and converting all three of Leinster’s tries.
His penalties gave Leinster an early lead before a break from Donncha O’Callaghan led to O’Driscoll finding D’Arcy, who charged over the line.
O’Driscoll added a try of his own early in the second half with Horgan’s late interception try sealing the win for Cheika’s side.
Leinster 16-6 Munster, May 15, 2010, Celtic League semi-final
After a mauling earlier in the season and a single point victory in the reverse fixture, Leinster made it a hat-trick of wins over their bitter rivals in the play-offs.
By beating Munster they ended the Red Army’s defence of their title and set up a Celtic League final against the Ospreys, that they would go on to lose 12-17.
They came through the punishing semi-final thanks to the only try of the game from Rob Kearney.
Jonny Sexton and Ronan O’Gara traded penalties in the first half and the latter extended Munster’s lead early in the second half thanks to a long-range drop-goal.
Sexton would have the deciding say though as his pass set up Kearney for his score.
The fly-half added two more penalties to seal the victory and cap a stunning return to action after a month out of action with a broken jaw.
The game’s bruising nature was characterised by a yellow card for Horgan in the first half and Tomas O’Leary’s high challenge on Healy in the second half that went unpunished.
Munster 24-23 Leinster, April 2, 2011
O’Gara’s last-minute penalty sealed victory for Munster over their provincial rivals, their first in six attempts.
The late-season encounter stretched the home side’s advantage at the top of the Celtic League, which they would go on to win that season with another derby victory over Leinster.
The home side had trailed 20-9 at half-time thanks to five penalties from Jonathan Sexton and a try from Horgan.
The winger collected full-back Isa Nacewa’s kick to slide over in the corner and give Leinster the advantage.
The boots of O’Gara and Paul Warwick, who replaced Felix Jones, brought the home side back into contention though before O’Gara kicked the winning points in the final minute.
Leinster conceded the penalty just five metres from the try line but tight to the left touchline, leaving the homes fans with their hearts in their mouths as O’Gara lined up the vital kick.
It sailed between the posts though and Munster went 11 points clear at the top of the table.
Munster 19-9 Leinster, 28 May, 2011, Celtic League final
Munster confirmed their dominance of Irish and Celtic rugby in the 2010-11 season by beating their provincial rivals to claim the league title.
The Red Army scored the only try of the game as they limited Leinster to just three penalties from the boot of Sexton.
Doug Howlett went over in the 12th minute after Conor Murray fed Lifeimi Mafi whose goose step left the Leinster defence confused, allowing space for Howlett to touch down in the corner.
O’Gara converted the try and the home side led 7-3 at half time.
Two Sexton penalties gave Leinster a slender lead but that was wiped out in the 66th minute when a cross-field O’Gara kick found Keith Earls and the winger beat two defenders to score in the corner.
O’Gara missed the conversion and a penalty soon after but the win was sealed with a minute to go after a Leinster infringement at the scrum led to Munster being awarded a penalty try.
Kevin McLaughlin and Nathan Hines both went close for Leinster in the dying seconds but Munster held out to claim the title.