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Magners Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Magners Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Munster captain Paul O’Connell will lift the Magners League trophy at Thomond Park tonight as the men in red are officially crowned Magners League champions. After losing in Cardiff last weekend, Tony McGahan’s men will be eager to give their departing players a winning send-off against the Ospreys.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, May 15

MUNSTER v OSPREYS, Thomond Park Stadium, 7.45pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/Setanta Sports 2/BBC Wales)

Team News: Two of Munster’s longest serving players, Frankie Sheahan and Anthony Horgan, will make their final appearances in the Munster jerseys that they graced for the past twelve years, when they line out against the Ospreys on Friday.

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Sheahan made his debut for Munster in November 1996 (v Western Samoa) while Horgan’s first cap came eight months later in the Interprovincial championship match against Connacht.

Since then, between them, they have gained over 300 competitive caps for Munster. Horgan’s career record of 38 tries includes 14 in the Heineken Cup.

In what will prove to be an emotional night for Munster – they will be presented with the Magners League trophy after the match – supporters will get the opportunity to also bid ‘adieu’ to prop Federico Pucciariello, back rower John O’Sullivan, scrum half Mike Prendergast and centre-cum-winger Kieran Lewis who all bow out of the Munster squad after the final game of the season.

Meanwhile, the Ospreys have rested all of their 2009 Lions players, including Ireland winger Tommy Bowe, for their final game of the season.

Head coach Sean Holley has still selected a strong starting line-up, with Wales captain Ryan Jones, free-scoring out-half James Hook and Sonny Parker and Ian Gough included.

It will be a memorable occasion for centre Parker as he makes his 100th appearance for the Ospreys, while winger David Evans is set to make his debut.

This will be Holley’s last game in charge of the Welsh region as Scott Johnson is taking over for next season.

MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi, Ian Dowling; Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer; Federico Pucciariello, Denis Fogarty, Tony Buckley, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell (capt), Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan, David Wallace.

Replacements: Frankie Sheahan, Dave Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, John O’Sullivan, Mike Prendergast, Anthony Horgan, Kieran Lewis.

OSPREYS: Gareth Owen; Ashley Beck, Sonny Parker, Jonathan Spratt, David Evans; James Hook, Jamie Nutbrown; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Cai Griffiths, Ian Gough, Andy Lloyd, Ryan Jones (capt), Marty Holah, Filo Tiatia.

Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Duncan Jones, Craig Mitchell, Richard Kelly, Steve Tandy, Rhodri Wells, Dan Biggar.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Alan Rogan, Mark Hermin (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 1/16; Draw: 28/1; Ospreys to win: 7/1

Say What: Federico Pucciariello (Munster) – “I had been moving around Europe for 10 years with several different clubs – Narbonne, Gloucester and Bourgoin – and it was difficult for my wife and family, so I knew it would be my last contract.

“I came to Munster from Bourgoin because I saw it as a challenge. Munster already had international props in Marcus (Horan) and John (Hayes). I knew I would have to compete very hard. But that is what I like.

“The last four seasons have flown by very quickly. The time seems to have passed like it was two weeks. I had the option to live in Limerick or Cork. But when I came to Limerick I was taken with how friendly people were. They were chatty and smiling.

“I had never stayed more than three years with any of my previous clubs, but I enjoyed myself so much with Munster that I have been here for four seasons. Being involved with this team has been something very special.

“There have been so many highglights, but winning the Heineken Cup for the first time against Biarritz in 2006 was a terrific occasion. The first time you do something is better than any other time.

“The All Blacks game at Thomond Park was another highlight. I still keep thinking we should have won that match. And winning the Magners League this year was very satisfying too. It is so competitive.

“I was fortunate enough to score seven tries during my time with Munster. Scoring a try gives me a great sensation. It is so hard for a prop to score.

“I don’t like to think of Friday as a time for saying goodbye. It is not the end of something, but the start of a new chapter.

“I plan to be back in Limerick two or three times each year in the coming years.”

Sean Holley (Ospreys) – “Hard, long, tiring, demanding, enjoyable – all of the above really…but I’m very proud of it. There’s been a lot of mixed emotions.

“It’s been up and down with lots being done really well, but then learning lots of things the hard way too.

“Jonathan (Humphreys) and I have thrown ourselves at it. And, while we have been slightly under-staffed, we have done our very best with it.

“But this year has been a huge learning curve for us and it will really stand us in good stead for the future. Now I’m just looking forward to a well-earned rest and coming back strong next year.

“I’ve got to say, with the way we’ve trained this week, it looks like the boys are fired up for an end-of-season finale.

“You have got players who could potentially be playing their last game for the Ospreys – and you’ve got Sonny Parker playing his 100th game for us.

“Some of those boys also have quite poor memories of their last trip to Munster and they want to put that right.

“And it’s not nice having to be there when the title we have worked hard for is presented to another team.

“So when you look at it that way, there’s quite a lot to play for. That should make for an exciting game.”

Top Scorers: 2008/09 Magners League – Points: Munster: Paul Warwick 83; Ospreys: James Hook 151; Tries: Munster: Keith Earls 8; Ospreys: Shane Williams 5


Friday, May 5, 2006 – Ospreys 27 Munster 10, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, November 25, 2006 – Munster 25 Ospreys 20, Thomond Park
Saturday, April 7, 2007 – Ospreys 20 Munster 12, Liberty Stadium
Sunday, October 14, 2007 – Ospreys 16 Munster 3, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, April 19, 2008 – Munster 9 Ospreys 8, Musgrave Park
Friday, January 9, 2009 – Ospreys 21 Munster 25, Liberty Stadium


– Magners League champions Munster were defeated in Cardiff last Sunday, but have won their last six home matches in all competitions

– The last Welsh team to win at Thomond Park was the Newport Gwent Dragons on March 12, 2004

– The Ospreys have won four of their last five games in the Magners League with the only defeat in that period being a 32-30 loss at home to Edinburgh on April 25

– The Ospreys have won their last three away games in the Magners League and another win here will set a new Ospreys league record

– Munster have won their last three games against the Ospreys in all competitions. The Welsh region’s only previous win on Munster soil was an 18-15 success at Musgrave Park on February 27, 2004