Munster ‘A’ head coach Ian Costello has made nine changes to his team for their second interprovincial match against Connacht Eagles at Garryowen FC on Thursday (kick-off 5pm). Admission is free and all are welcome.
One of those changes is positional with Brian Hayes switching from the lock position he played in during last Friday’s last-gasp 19-17 victory over Ulster Ravens in Belfast.
The Cork Constitution clubman will start at blindside flanker against Connacht Eagles, filling in for Niall Ronan who will be with the senior squad for their league game against the Newport Gwent Dragons.
The absence in the Munster ‘A’ side of Paddy Butler, Peter Stringer, Danny Barnes and JJ Hanrahan suggests that they are also required for Saturday duty with Rob Penney’s men.
With Butler, who led the side against Ulster Ravens, not involved for the game Dooradoyle, one of the Munster ‘A’ try scorers at Deramore Park last time out, scrum half Cathal Sheridan, will take on the captaincy role.
Included in Ian Costello’s selection are Academy and development-contracted players and the following club representatives – James Murphy and Richie Mullane, both from Shannon RFC, Garryowen’s own Neil Cronin and Sean Rennison from UL Bohemians.
JJ Hanrahan landed a late match-winning conversion to see Munster ‘A’ overcome the Ravens and Costello’s charges will have revenge on their minds after Connacht Eagles beat them 13-6 at the Sportsground last month.
Speaking after training at Cork IT, Costello said: “A lot of the selection issues have been taken out of our hands because unfortunately there’s been a number of injuries.
“Then there’s a number of players in the senior squad who have played six games in-a-row and are due a break and that of course has a knock on effect to the ‘A’ side. That’s why there are a number of names in the squad that we haven’t seen previously at this level.
“And there are a significant number of changes for this game. So this game affords us the opportunity to try new fellas. The positives is that we get to learn more about these guys that have been training in our Academy and our sub-Academy, see where they’re at.”
He added: “What I’m quite excited about is that we’re looking at two or three on our teamsheet that we’ve been looking to get opportunities for.
“We’ve seen them playing club rugby so it’ll be interesting to see how they play at the next level. We’ve put out the strongest possible team we can because it’s a game, it’s a competition we want to win.”
MUNSTER ‘A’ (v Connacht Eagles): Johnny Holland; Ronan O’Mahony, Corey Hircock, Cian Bohane, Darren Moroney; Scott Deasy, Cathal Sheridan (capt); David Kilcoyne, Sean Henry, John Ryan, Philip Donnellan, Cathal O’Flaherty, Brian Hayes, Barry O’Mahony, Shane Buckley.
Replacements: Duncan Casey, James Cronin, Christy Condon, James Murphy, Sean Rennison, Neil Cronin, Richie Mullane, AN Other.