07 Mar 14
Munster A just edged out Connacht Eagles 32-26 in an eight-try thriller at Dooradoyle this afternoon.
He is one of seven changes, two of those positional, that Tony McGahan has made to the side, from the one that started against Leinster last Saturday, for the opening Heineken Cup game against London Irish at The Madjeski Stadium in Reading tomorrow evening (5.45).
With Lifeimi Mafi suspended, Earls slips into the number 13 slot while Johne Murphy who played in that position in the opening three Magners League matches is named at full-back ahead of Paul Warwick who is listed among the replacements.
Murphy's place on the wing now goes to Denis Hurley while Peter Stringer wins his 197th Munster cap at scrum-half in the absence of injury claimed (broken thumb) Tomas O'Leary.
Illness ruled Tony Buckley out of the match day squad for the Leinster game but he returns to the tight-head position and there is a major shake up in the back row with Denis Leamy skippering the side as flanker and James Coughlan winning his second start of the season at number 8.
Speaking about the return to the side of Earls, Mick Galwey said, "It's great to have Keith back in the squad, He did a full session on Tuesday and came through that with no ill-efects. The only concern would of course be match time. He hasn't had any of that for a long time. But it's great to have him back in the match day squad, particularly when you think of the injuries we have. It's important to get back as many players as we can.
"A few weeks back we weren't sure when exactly he'd be back, whether it's be Heineken One or Two, hoping it'd be One and he's in there now and that's a huge boost.."
Speaking about Munster's preparation and the question of defeat to Leinster, Galwey wasn't exactly downcast. "Anytime you lose to Leinster it's not ideal. There's a great rivalry in any of these interprovincial contests. They're the games you want to win. But I think if you look beyond that, if you take the Leinster game out of it, because it's a derby match, I think out performances have been very impressive. I think four out of five in the Magners is something we haven't done in a long time."
"Yes of course everyone was disappointed with that result. But we'd set our goals for the start of the season in the Magners and we're top of the table at the end of that phase. If we'd been offered that at the outset, would we have taken it ? Course we would.
"There are no trophies won in October." Galwey continued."Losing to Leinster is not the ideal preparation. We thought the away win in Glasgow was the the ideal preparation for Leinster. A bonus point win, should have been ideal preparation but it wasn't. So maybe being beaten by Leinster will be. Sometimes when you're winning all the time you don't learn a whole lot about yourselves. When you lose a game like that, you know you have to go back to the drawing board.
"And that's what we've done this week."
Munster: J Murphy; D Howlett, K Earls, S Tuitupou, D Hurley, R O'Gara, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Varley, T Buckley; D O'Callaghan, D Ryan; D Leamy capt, N Ronan J Coughlan.Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, J Hayes, M O'Driscoll, D Wallace, D Williams, P Warwick, S Deasy.