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Earls, Wallace, O’Connell included in Munster Squad

October 2, 2009 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Earls, Wallace, O’Connell included in Munster Squad

Nineteen of those who played in th Heineken Cup semi final defeat to Leinster last May feature in the Munster squad for tomorrow’s Magners League clash with Leinster at the RDS.

And this game sees the appearance for the first time this season of Keith Earls, Ian Dowling, Jerry Flannery, Paul O’Connell and David Wallace while Paul Warwick returns to the match day squad after injuring a foot in the pre-season game against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Earls and O’Connell were due to turn out against Dragons last weekend but were denied by illness and injury respectively but both came through training yesterday with flying colours and while Earls is in from the off, the Lions captain will start from the bench.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference at UL, explaining why reporters had seen him with an ice pack, O’Connell said, "Its (hamstring) fine now, not a problem. I have to manage it thats all, that’s why the ice, and thats why I didn’t play last week. I wont play a full game on Saturday cause it’s my first game back rather than anything else really. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field. This game comes as the ideal preparation both for myself and the squad ahead of the European games coming up. Really looking forward to it."

Ian Dowling has recovered from the knee injury that as kept him out up to last Thursday when he played a full 80 minutes in Munster As win over Ulster at Shawsbridge.

Elsewhere, Tony McGahan makes two changes to the back row, one enforced by the absence through injury (neck) of Alan Quinlan, with Denis Leamy on the blindside, Niall Ronan back from injury on the open and three-try scorer in the Dragons game, Nick Williams not surprisingly continuing at number 8.

Munster: K Earls; D Howlett, L Mafi, J de Villiers, D Hurley; R O’Gara capt, T O’Leary; M Horan, D Fogarty, J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll; D Leamy, N Ronan, N Williams. Replacements: J Flannery, T Buckley, P O’Connell, D Wallace, P Warwick, P Stringer, I Dowling.

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Very Little To Cheer About

October 3, 2009 12:00 am By Munster Rugby

Very Little To Cheer About

A final scoreline of 30-0, one that Munster can have absolutely no complaints about and a performance that was worringly so un-Munsterlike.

Leinster were the better side in every aspect of play and if there was any consolation whatsoever for the southerners it was that they somehow managed to deny the victors a bonus point. Almost right from the word go, the home side looked the hungrier more inventive outside and they managed to maintain their intensity for the full 80 odd minutes. Munster rarely threatened the Leinster line and the one occasion they did, when awarded a short penalty at the start of the second half, they were blasted backwards and then once again turned over ball allowing Eoin Reddan to clear the danger.

Leinster played with the wind and built a 13 point lead thanks to a Gordon D’Arcy try and the rest of the points from the unerring boot of Johnny Sexton.

It looked far from an insurmountable task and when a delightful Keith Earls kick found touch five metres out minutes after the restart, it looked like the Munster riposte was set to begin. They managed to spoil that throw and win a free kick that Denis Leamy took quickly but he was easily stopped and then turned over and after that Leinster had all the clever moves.

Man of the match Brian O’Driscoll slipped past several tacklers to score a try in the 46th minute, Sexton converted and shortly after John Hayes was red carded for an incident involving Cian Healy. Sexton added to his points tally with the resultant penalty.

Paul Warwick’s introduction for Lifeimi Mafi in the 63rd minute saw an improvement insofar as he made cutting breaks on several occasion but then threw the pass that Shane Horgan intercepted to score under the posts.

It ended with Leamy being escorted off injured but it’s the mental as much as physical scars that need attention now as Munster face into an away trip to Franklin’s Gardens next weekend.

Munster: K Earls; D Howlett, L Mafi (P Warwick 63), J de Villiers, D Hurley (I Dowling 67); R O’Gara (capt), T O’Leary (P Stringer 76); M Horan, D Fogarty (J Flannery 58), J Hayes; D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll (P O’Connell 49 ); D Leamy, N Ronan (T Buckley 58), N Williams (D Wallace 49).

Leinster: I Nacewa, S Horgan, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, J Fogarty, S Wright, L Cullen (capt), N Hines, K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements: B Jackman, M Ross, M O’Kelly, S O’Brien, S Keogh, F McFadden, R Kearney.

Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU).

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