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Quinlan Return a Boost for Munster.
11 November 2004, 10:04 am
With David Wallace and Anthony Horgan joining John Kelly on the list of Munster players injured, Alan Quinlan makes a welcome return to Munster colours this evening
With David Wallace and Anthony Horgan joining John Kelly on the list of Munster players injured at international training sessions, and with Denis Leamy elevated to international status, Munster coach Alan Gaffney will be more than relieved that Alan Quinlan has recovered from the ankle injury sustained in the game against Ulster, in time for the clash tonight with The Borders (Musgrave Park 6.45pm).

Quinlan takes his place in a back-row that includes Wallace s replacement last week, Stephen Keogh and the ever dependable Jim Williams. Other than that, Gaffney names the same pack that did so well to see off the challenge of the Dragons but makes several changes in the back division, the most noticeable being the decision to rest Christian Cullen.

The League s leading try scorer has started in every one of his side s 10 competitive matches so far as well as playing a full part in the two pre-season friendlies. His place at full-back goes to Shaun Payne (pictured) and this shift for Payne gives an opportunity to Mike Mullins to stake a claim for a position that was almost exclusively his until the arrival of Payne. The unavailability of Horgan and Kelly gives former Widnes Viking Paul Devlin the chance to strut his stuff on the wing while Eoin Reddan makes a return to the number 9 position with Mike Prendergast named on the bench.

League positions might suggest that this is a gimme for Munster who currently lie third in the table while their opponents this evening prop up the table. However, that is not the way Gaffney sees it and he is acutely aware that games like this are often the most difficult. I believe that anything less than our best performance will see us in trouble. Once this game kicks off league position means nothing. Borders were just pipped last week and have lost several games by narrow margins so they ll feel they re due a change in fortune. The pressure is on us and it s how we deal with that may decide the outcome

Munster are on something of a roll having won five Celtic League games on the trot. Add in the two games in the Heineken Cup and it s a testimony to the strength in depth of the squad and the motivational and management skills of Gaffney, Brian Hickey, Jerry Holland and their management personnel.

Tonight s game is not just about League points. It s about about performance. It s about maintaining morale and momentum ahead of the next round of Heineken Cup games in early December.

Munster: Shaun Payne; Mossy Lawler, Mike Mullins, Rob Henderson, Paul Devlin; Paul Burke, Eoin Reddan; Frank Roche, James Blaney, Gordon McIlwham; Trevor Hogan, Tom Bowman; Stephen Keogh, Alan Quinlan, Jim Williams. Replacements: Mike Storey, Denis Fogarty, Tom Hayes, Johnny O'Connor, Mike Prendergast, Jason Holland, Martin McPhail.

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