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Magners Preview: Munster v Connacht

Magners Preview: Munster v Connacht

Munster and Connacht had contrasting fortunes in Europe last weekend and coming off the back of their impressive Heineken Cup dismissal of the Ospreys, Munster are heavily favoured to beat their Irish rivals on Saturday and keep the Magners League crown in their sights.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, April 18

MUNSTER v CONNACHT, Thomond Park Stadium, 7.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/Setanta Sports 2)

Team News: Munster have named 17 of the players included in the matchday squad for last weekend’s win over Ospreys, for Saturday’s Magners League derby clash with Connacht at Thomond Park Stadium.

This time around Paul Warwick, man-of-the-match against the Ospreys from the full-back berth, has been named at out-half as he lines up against his former team Connacht.

Ronan O’Gara will provide back-up amongst the replacements alongside his Grand Slam colleagues Tomas O’Leary, Marcus Horan and David Wallace.

Ian Dowling and Doug Howlett have retained their places in the back-line but Barry Murphy teams up with fellow Limerick man Keith Earls in the centre while Denis Hurley takes up position at full-back.

Meanwhile, Connacht have made one change to their side ahead of their Magners League clash with Munster in Limerick.

Troy Nathan comes into the back-line to form a centre partnership with Niva Ta’auso for the first time but Connacht are still waiting on a number of injury concerns to determine how the forwards will shape up.

Either Andrew Browne or Michael Swift could start in the second row alongside Andrew Farley.

At number 8 there is still a question mark over the fitness of Ray Ofisa, with Colm Rigney likely to deputise in his absence.

MUNSTER: Denis Hurley; Doug Howlett, Barry Murphy, Keith Earls, Ian Dowling; Paul Warwick, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Nick Williams, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy.

Replacements: Michael Essex, Marcus Horan, Billy Holland, David Wallace, Tomas O’Leary, Ronan O’Gara, Lifeimi Mafi.

CONNACHT: Gavin Duffy; Fionn Carr, Niva Ta’auso, Troy Nathan, Liam Bibo; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Ronan Loughney, Andrew Browne/Michael Swift, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon (capt), Johnny O’Connor, Colm Rigney/Ray Ofisa.

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Brian McGovern, Michael Swift/David Gannon, Colm Rigney/David Nolan, Conor O’Loughlin, Andy Dunne, Mel Deane.

Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips, Mark Gargan (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Brian Fitzgerald (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/20; Draw: 40/1; Connacht to win: 8/1

Say What: Tony McGahan (Munster) – “We wanted to be competing well on all fronts and the next two games in the Magners League, against Connacht and the Scarlets, are very important.

“But we only have to look at our training and the players in their last two outings have been very fresh and played with a lot of intensity so that’s down to great work from our strength and conditioning department.

“We need to keep continuing to look at that and make sure the players are looking forward to playing a game at the weekend.

“We’ve put forward many times that we have a huge depth in our squad and certainly we’ve looked to make sure that players are well rested.

“They’ve come back off a lot of rugby, they’ve had a lot of high intensity rugby and we want them looking forward to the weekend.

“We need to make decisions on how many games they play and keep monitoring them. It will be case by case with each player and we’ll address that during the week.”

John Muldoon (Connacht) – “We ended up getting another hammering against Northampton (last week).

“It’s not a nice feeling because we have a quality team and we have to believe in ourselves, we need to start moving forward.

“I feel we’re not that far away, we’ve quality in this side. It’s just a matter of getting the results that we need to get us up there and challenging, and it would be nice to start that down in Thomond Park.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Munster: Paul Warwick 73; Connacht: Ian Keatley 104; Tries: Munster: Keith Earls 7; Connacht: Fionn Carr 5


Tuesday, December 27, 2005 – Munster 36 Connacht 17, Thomond Park
Sunday, December 3, 2006 – Munster 13 Connacht 0, Thomond Park
Sunday, December 31, 2006 – Connacht 8 Munster 14, The Sportsground
Thursday, December 27, 2007 – Munster 17 Connacht 0, Musgrave Park
Friday, March 28, 2008 – Connacht 5 Munster 16, The Sportsground
Sunday, December 28, 2008 – Connacht 12 Munster 6, The Sportsground


– Munster’s rich run of form continued with an eighth straight win over the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup on Sunday

– The Magners League leaders’ record against fellow Irish teams this season is a less than impressive won 2 and lost 3

– Connacht’s 39-17 victory at home to the Dragons last time out in the Magners League included their first try-scoring bonus point in the league since January 2007

– Connacht have won just once on the road in the Magners League since September 2006 – beating the Dragons 13-11 on April 18, 2008

– Connacht turned over Munster 12-6 at the Sportsground on December 28 but have never managed to achieve back-to-back wins over their illustrious neighbours