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Munster Select Squad For Connacht Trip

Munster Select Squad For Connacht Trip

With a British & Irish Cup semi-final just over a week away as well as crucial Magners League games in the offing, Munster have finalised their extended squad for this weekend’s derby clash with Connacht.

The 29-man squad includes senior and British & Irish Cup squad members and Under-20 and Academy players, all of whom will be pressed into action over the coming weeks as Munster chase success on three fronts.

Keith Earls will not be risked as he continues his recovery from a groin injury, with a similar knock keeping team captain Paul O’Connell on the sidelines.

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Wingers Doug Howlett (hamstring) and Ian Dowling (hamstring) are also notable absentees as Munster look to keep on track for a league play-off spot and gain revenge over Connacht for last season’s 12-6 reversal in Galway.

Speaking ahead of the interprovincial showdown at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.05pm), Munster team manager Shaun Payne said: “With this being a Sunday match, we have a nice long lead into it. We still have that nice fuzzy warm feeling at the minute (after the Heineken Cup win over Northampton), but we’ll be refocused and fully ready to go.

“There are three games left for us in the Magners League’s regulation phase and obviously there is a real logjam between the sides placed two, three, four, five, and probably six.

“We have the Ospreys on Saturday week and that is a massive game as well, considering the lead-up to the Heineken Cup semi-final (against Biarritz Olympique) the following week.

“You just get the feeling that everything is going to come down to Cardiff in the last game in Magners League round 18.

“We can’t afford to be dropping any points at this minute. Next up it’s Connacht at the Sportsground which is a very close game every year.

“Obviously, we came a-cropper there last year. If you look at Connacht’s recent form, they have been outstanding, so we are expecting a tough battle from them.”

MUNSTER Squad (v Connacht) – Backs (11): Scott Deasy, Simon Zebo, Tom Gleeson, Lifeimi Mafi, Jean de Villiers, Danny Barnes, Ronan O’Gara, Paul Warwick, Jeremy Manning, Tomas O’Leary, Peter Stringer.

Forwards (18): Dave Ryan, Tony Buckley, Julien Brugnaut, John Hayes, Marcus Horan, Damien Varley, Jerry Flannery, Denis Fogarty, Mick O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan, Dave Foley, Billy Holland, Nick Williams, David Wallace, Alan Quinlan, Peter O’Mahony, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan.