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Watch: Just Look At What Munster's Victory Meant To Donnacha Ryan Today

Watch: Just Look At What Munster's Victory Meant To Donnacha Ryan Today
By Gavan Casey Updated
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Munster were forced to overcome some absurd refereeing from JP Doyle but eventually turned the screw on Toulouse at Thomond Park.

Perhaps somewhat overlooked on a fine evening for the southern province was the likelihood that this fixture would be the final European game in which Donnacha Ryan would line out in Munster red at Thomond, with a shock move to Racing all but confirmed midweek, and Munster's remaining European fixtures this season - regardless of what happens between Sarries and Glasgow tomorrow - taking them out of Limerick.

The IRFU and, to a lesser extent, Munster, have conspired to lose arguably Ireland's finest forward performer from this year's Six Nations, with the 33-year-old's colossal display today fully in keeping with his performances for club and country all season.

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Munster's post-game celebrations masked quite a poignant moment, however, as Ryan - with Munster running through every fibre of his being - bid farewell to what's been his home ground for the past 13 years.

One lengthy embrace with Keith Earls in particular quite evidently depicted not only what the game meant to the Nenagh man, but that his teammates - and in particular those with whom he's played with for the best part of a decade - knew precisely the amalgamation of pride and meloncholy which would have been coursing through him as he strolled breathless around the famous old ground.

It was Ryan who led Munster's lap of honour towards the West Stand, waving to Munster fans who have so often seen him quite literally spill blood - and not just his own - in their colours.

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As he disappeared down the tunnel, it won't have been just Alan Quinlan who would have been thinking, 'There goes one hard bastard'.

1 April 2017; Simon Zebo, left, Donnacha Ryan, centre, and Billy Holland of Munster celebrate after the European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter-Final match between Munster and Toulouse at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

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