Paul O'Connell's side have little left to play for in the domestic league but a local rivalry of this magnitude meant the game was anything but a dead rubber.
Fresh from their Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Harlequins, Munster scored two tries through Ian Keatley and Felix Jones, to O'Driscoll's solitary score for the visitors but it was the boot of Ian Madigan that kept the game tight.
It was Leinster who started brightly and it looked for all the world like Rob Kearney had scored the first try of the game in the opening exchanges but the TMO denied him for not grounding the ball.
Despite that setback the visitors kept coming and deservedly were in front in the sixth minute as Madigan slotted over a penalty after Dave Kilcoyne was penalised at scrum time.
Munster were clearly struggling in the scrum and a few minutes later Madigan again made them pay with his second penalty before then adding a third moments later for an early 9-0 lead.
Munster needed a score and soon and it was Keatley who provided it, the fly-half darting over in the corner for the game's first try after Damian Varley had secured quick turnover ball for the home side.
The fly-half, picked ahead of Ronan O'Gara for the clash, then missed with the touchline conversion but Munster were well and truly in the game.
And barely two minutes had passed before a rampant Munster pack had engineered a second score, a driving maul sucking in defenders before the ball was spread wide for Felix Jones to go over in the corner.
Keatley was again askew with the extras but the Thomond Park faithful now had a lead to celebrate for the first time in the game at 10-9.
The unerring right boot of Madigan was keeping Leinster in the game though and they re-took the lead just before the break, the fly-half slotting his fourth penalty of the half for a 12-10 lead at the interval.
But the battle of the young stand-offs was only just heating up as Keatley, playing against his former club, showed his precision after the break to knock over two successive penalties, the second from his own half, to open up a 16-12 lead.
Madigan responded in kind from close range after O'Connell was pinged just before the hour mark and there was only one point in it at 16-15 to the home side.
A terrible looking injury to Dave Kearney then brought a brief half to proceedings, the winger getting booted in the head by O'Connell as the second-row attempted to hack the loose ball through.
After the winger was stretchered off to be replaced by Andrew Conway it was Leinster who remained in the ascendancy.
And after a period of sustained pressure by the Leinster pack in the opposition 22 they finally had their try, and it was that man O'Driscoll who did the damage.
The centre had already been denied from close range a few phases earlier but there was no stopping the 34-year-old this time as he burrowed over right under the posts for the decisive score on 70 minutes.
Madigan added the simple conversion and Leinster were 22-16 up with ten minutes to see out for a vital win in the context of the play-off hunt.
Munster, led by the inspirational O'Connell once again, gave their all in the closing stages to steal it but Leinster held firm, Jamie Heaslip winning the crucial turnover late on to seal the result that ended Munster's already slim chances of a play-off berth.
|Munster Rugby Score Card|
|Leinster Rugby Score Card|