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Leamy's Good Form Rewarded.
2 February 2005, 12:58 pm
On foot of outstanding performances in the Celtic and Heineken Cup competitions, Denis Leamy is set to make his Six Nations debut on Sunday next against Italy in Rome.
On foot of outstanding performances in the Celtic and Heineken Cup competitions, Denis Leamy is set to make his Six Nations debut on Sunday next against Italy in Rome.

The 23 year old from Ballyhenberry in Co Tipperary, who made his international debut against the US Eagles in the autumn international, is preferred in the Irish back-row to Johnny O'Connor who was Eddie O'Sullivan's choice for the games against South Africa and Argentina at that time.

However, Leamy has impressed with sterling performances in the high profile Heineken Cup matches and in the Celtic League, particularly in the game against Leinster and more recently against Llanelli Scarlets in Stradey Park.

O'Sullivan admitted that the Leamy/O'Connor was a tight call. " The back row is always going to tough. Johnny loses out he acquitted himself very well against South Africa and Argentina but Denis has been chomping at the bit and has had a very big Heineken Cup. It wasn't really a call that was made on form because Johnny has also been playing very well. They are slightly different types of player.

" I think really the Italy game will probably suit Denis a bit more. It's an embarrassment of riches we have in the back row, and I opted for the best combination for the game. But yes it was a very difficult decision, a tough one to call but they're the sort of decisions I want."

The calf injury that Frank Sheahan picked up at last week's training came at a very inopportune time given that, on the evidence of the Musgrave Park encounter between Munster and Leinster, Sheahan must have been close to displacing Shane Byrne, the Leinster hooker who is set to win his 34th cap on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Ronan O'Gara and Peter Stringer as anticipated occupy the half-back slots while John Hayes, Paul O'Connell and Anthony Foley were likely among the first names written into the team-sheet by the Ireland coach.

15. Geordan Murphy 14. Shane Horgan 13. Brian O'Driscoll capt 12. Gordon D'Arcy 11. Denis Hickie 10. Ronan O'Gara 9. Peter Stringer 1. Reggie Corrigan 2. Shane Byrne 3. John Hayes 4. Malcolm O'Kelly 5. Paul O'Connell 6. Simon Easterby 7. Denis Leamy 8. Anthony Foley

Replacements. 16. Frank Sheahan 17. Marcus Horan 18. Donncha O'Callaghan 19. Eric Miller 20. Guy Easterby 21. David Humphreys 22. Girvan Dempsey.

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