Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has finalised his team and replacements for Friday’s Magners League derby clash with Munster at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.05pm).
The westerners will look to bounce back from their narrow defeat at the hands of Ulster at Ravenhill two weeks ago.
In one of their most successful seasons to date, Connacht have won seven league matches, drawn one and earned six losing bonus points to sit in ninth position with only this weekend’s interprovincial derby remaining.
The selected matchday squad has a blend of youth and experience with captain Johnny O’Connor, Brett Wilkinson John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy and Mike McCarthy joined by Academy graduates such as Dave Nolan, Eoin Griffin and Tiernan O’Halloran.
Frank Murphy starts at scrum half alongside the Munster-bound Ian Keatley who is just 15 points behind the Ospreys’ Dan Biggar in the Magners League scoring charts this season.
Galway youngster Griffin and Miah Nikora make up the centre partnership, with Fionn Carr, who has agreed to join Leinster, Brian Tuohy and Duffy starting once again in the back-three.
Connacht’s front row unit of Wilkinson, Sean Cronin and Jamie Hagan have all represented Ireland at senior or Wolfhounds level.
McCarthy and Bernie Upton will provide the grunt in the second row, while Andrew Browne, O’Connor and Muldoon join forces in the back row.
CONNACHT (v Munster): Gavin Duffy; Brian Tuohy, Eoin Griffin, Miah Nikora, Fionn Carr; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Mike McCarthy, Bernie Upton, Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor (capt), John Muldoon.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Dylan Rogers, Dave Nolan, Mike McComish, Cillian Willis, Troy Nathan, Tiernan O’Halloran.