The 25-man Munster squad selected for Friday’s Magners League meeting with Leinster (Musgrave Park, kick-off 7.30pm) includes fit-again centre Barry Murphy, who has impressed for his club UL Bohemians in recent weeks.
Murphy has caught the eye by turning out for Bohs in the AIB League and he also bagged two tries for Munster ‘A’ in their Interprovincial win over their Leinster counterparts last week. Owing to an ankle injury, the 25-year-old has not played for the province’s senior team since last May.
Munster coach Declan Kidney faces a tough decision over who to start with in the centre. He could stick with New Zealand duo Rua Tipoki and Lifeimi Mafi, who played in the province’s two recent Heineken Cup matches, or decide to include one or other of Murphy and Kieran Lewis, who will be itching to face his former team-mates.
Munster will be without flanker Alan Quinlan for Friday’s game and for the next eight weeks following confirmation that the Irish international has damaged hand ligaments in his thumb. He underwent surgery yesterday.
While Munster look set to be boosted by the return of number 7 David Wallace from a leg injury, the race to deputise for Quinlan on the blindside is certainly on.
Kidney, again, has options and could plump for either Munster ‘A’ captain James Coughlan or Niall Ronan, who turned in a very good performance against the Dragons last weekend, to fill in for Quinlan.
There is also a possibility that Denis Leamy could be switched to number 6 with former skipper Anthony Foley starting at the base of the Munster scrum.
MUNSTER Squad (v Leinster): Backs (12) – Shaun Payne, Denis Hurley, Brian Carney, Ian Dowling, Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi, Rua Tipoki, Barry Murphy, Gerry Hurley, Peter Stringer, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara.
Forwards (13) – Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Tony Buckley, Jerry Flannery, Frankie Sheahan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan, Anthony Foley.