Professional Era

All Ireland League success was achieved in 2008 after four final defeats during the decade. Despite finishing first in the league series in 2001, ‘02, ‘04 and ’07, the play-off finals were lost to Dungannon, Shannon (twice) and Garryowen. The overdue victory eventually came against Garryowen at Musgrave Park with a 17-6 win.

The inaugural AIB Cup was won in 2005 with a big win over St Mary’s College at Lansdowne Road, when prolific wing Cronan Healy scored a hat-trick of tries. There was disappointment in 2008 when the final was reached again only to lose to Ballynahinch at Dubarry Park. But the team made amends in 2010 when they were victorious over Garryowen, despite playing with fourteen players for the entire second half. And the League & Cup double was completed for the first time in 2010 when St Marys College were beaten in the final after extra time at Dubarry Park, Athlone.

A welcome and long overdue Munster Senior Cup victory was achieved under the captaincy of Brendan Cuttriss in 2009. It was the first since 1989, the longest period that the old trophy was missing from the trophy cabinet.

There were three Munster Junior Cup successes: 2003 (Brian O’Leary, captain), 2005 (Dave O’Brien, captain) and 2008 (Robert Casey, captain) to bring the club’s total to seventeen.

Ronan O’Gara was selected for the British & Irish Lions to Australia in 2001; New Zealand in 2005 and South Africa 2009. Donnncha O’Callaghan was selected for South Africa and played in one test.

Players contracted for Munster during the period included Ronan O’Gara, Anthony Horgan, John Kelly, Frank Sheahan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan, Denis Leamy, Denis Fogarty and Denis Hurley. They shared in Munster’s historic Heineken European Cup wins over Biarritz in 2006 and Toulouse in 2008. Ireland won four Triple Crowns in 2004,’05,’06 and added the Grand Slam in 2009 with Ronan O’Gara playing a leading role. However, success at World Cups eluded Ireland. They were defeated by France at the quarter final stage in 2003 and failed to qualify from the pool stage in 2007. Ronan O’Gara was honoured with captaincy of Ireland in 2008.

Tom Kiernan retired from IRFU committee and International Board duties in 2003, while Noel Murphy, who replaced him on the IRB, retired in 2008. Jerry Murray was honoured with the Munster Branch Presidency in 2000-01 season.