After Irelands winless start to the Six Nations, head coach Andy Farrell is in need of cause for cheer and some could be found in Cardiff where Joey Carbery made his long-awaited return from injury.While Farrell and his team were preparing for Saturdays must-win game with Italy in Rome, Carbery was tasting his first action since January 2020 after recovering from persistent ankle trouble.
Carbery rose from the bench to play 17 minutes in Munsters win over Cardiff Blues and any Irish rugby fan would have been pleased to see the talented 25-year-old playmaker back.
Farrell surely will be. Munster head coach Johann van Graan is most certainly in that camp, but he would have been far from delighted at his teams display as they edged past the Blues.
Jean Kleyns second-half try was the crucial moment as Munster stayed top of Conference B, but they were indebted to missed Cardiff kicks for their victory.
Munster made a lively and powerful start as Damian de Allende had plenty of early possession.
Cardiff flanker Shane Lewis-Hughes produced one key piece of breakdown work and his team-mate Jamie Hill did intercept a Munster pass. Home centre Mason Grady also made a clean break and it laid the platform for an early try for the Blues. 
Ben Thomas had sent Grady away and it was his pass that put lock Seb Davies over for an easy finish. Thomas conversion hit the post.
Soon after his try, Davies was yellow-carded for coming into a ruck following a big hit by Thomas. A scuffle ensued for which Davies was deemed to be the instigator.
Munsters line-out had not had the best of starts and a crucial tackle from Ellis Jenkins stopped an Irish score and earned Cardiff a penalty. Kleyn was also fortunate to escape a card for a poor first-half ruck clear-out of man-of-the-match Jenkins who also produced a trademark breakdown turnover. It was a frustrating first 27 minutes for Munster, but JJ Hanrahan did kick a simple penalty.
Thomas and Hanrahan exchanged penalties before the break to leave two points between the teams. Hanrahans monster penalty effort struck the angle of post and crossbar at the start of the second half and caused a mass panic in the home defence.
Van Graan would have been frustrated at his sides inability to convert their pressure into points both in the opening 40 and when the game resumed.
Cardiff continued to spoil almost constant Munster possession impressively with flankers Lewis-Hughes and the outstanding Jenkins a thorn in the away side.
Thomas kicked a huge penalty to send Munster five points behind. Van Graan immediately replaced his entire front row and it worked as they crashed over between the sticks.
Kleyn was the scorer from close range after fine approach work from Hanrahan who couldnt miss the simple conversion. Thomas attempted a penalty from halfway which fell short in response.
Thomas next penalty attempt saw him hit the post for the second time in the evening and the missed points were always going to be crucial in such a tight game.
Carbery entered the field in place of Rory Scannell and moved into centre where he was instantly crushed by Rey Lee-Lo. It was some welcome back for Carbery.
Cardiff pushed for a response, but their attacking game which fired in the first half didnt do likewise in the second. Munster were also on top at scrum time in the eyes of referee Adam Jones.
And with just a couple of minutes left, Munsters forwards got to work and drove over the line to seal victory. Niall Scannell was the scorer and Carbery showed he has lost none of his class by nailing the touchline conversion to deny Cardiff a losing bonus point.
Scorers – Cardiff Blues: Try: Davies 11; Pens: Thomas 37, 53. Munster: Try: Kleyn 54, N Scannell 77; Cons: Hanrahan 55, Carbery 78; Pens: Hanrahan 27, 38. 
Cardiff Blues: Morgan, Lane, Grady, Lee-Lo, Summerhill; Thomas, Hill (Jones 67); Domachowski (Bevacqua 73), Myhill (Belcher 40), Arhip (Assiratti 66), Davies (Ratti 62), Thornton, Lewis-Hughes (Robinson 62), Jenkins, Turnbull (capt). 
Replacements not used: Fish, Llewellyn. 
Munster: Haley; Nash (Sweetnam 75), R Scannell (Carbery 63), De Allende, Daly; Hanrahan, McCarthy; Cronin (O’Connor 53), O’Byrne (N Scannell 53), Ryan (Salanoa 53) (Ryan 73), Kleyn, Wycherley (Holland 63); O’Donoghue (capt) (Coombes 63), Cloete, O’Sullivan.
Replacement not used: Patterson. 
Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)