Keith Earls hands off Sale Sharks’ Luke McLean to run in the first of eight second-half tries for Munster. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

The thousands of unoccupied seats and large gaps on the terraces brooked no argument about the status afforded this match by many Munster supporters. (...)

Munster welcome back Keith Earls for his first start of the season, after two appearances off the bench. Photograph: James Crombie/ Inpho

If nothing else, this will be a significant test of Munster’s professionalism and of the extent of their supporters’ loyalty. Such has been their cons(...)

 Munster’s Paul O’Connell is hit hard by Saracens number eight  Billy Vunipola at Allianz Park.  Photograph: James Crombie / Inpho

Saracens 33 Munster 10It was hard to describe this as the day the light went out because in truth Munster barely flickered. Saracens dominated for lon(...)

Former Springbok prop BJ Botha learned some hard scrummaging lessons early in his career from players like Anton Oliver and Carl Hoeft. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

It was a slightly different festive period for BJ Botha. He had his mum and dad over, albeit flight complications ensured them of a first and last Chr(...)

Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell is tackled by Jim Hamilton and Brad Barritt of Saracens at Thomond Park last October.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.

They don’t hand out winners medals in January but there will be a few losers medals this weekend. The stark reality for the Irish provinces on the pen(...)

Munster’s Ian Keatley passes the ball as Saracens’ Owen Farrell moves in. The two sides meet again this weekend in the European Champions Cup. Photograph: INPHO/Billy Stickland

If it’s January in Europe then Munster have to be fighting for their lives. However, even by their standards, Munster are in a particularly tricky pic(...)

Conor Murray: neck injury means he will miss Munster’s final two pool games in the Champions Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Conor Murray has been ruled out of Munster’s two concluding European Champions Cup pool games, away to Saracens tomorrow and at home to Sale on Sunda(...)

Defeat for Munster on Saturday could mark the end of Paul O’Connell’s final European campaign. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The nearer Munster’s day of reckoning looms the starker their plight becomes. Defeat on Saturday to last season’s beaten Heineken Cup finalists Sarac(...)

Munster’s Simon Zebo and Chris Ashton of Saracens tussle for possession. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

For Munster, Saturday’s game against Saracens is do-or-die. It might always seem like the next game is do-or-die but actually, this isn’t a situation (...)

Keith Earls could play part for Munster against Saracens. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inphi

In weeks like this, it can’t be easy being a Munster player, or a new head coach come to think of it. They have a rich heritage in Europe, and arguabl(...)