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British & Irish Cup Semi-Final Preview: Munster ‘A’ v Leinster ‘A’

British & Irish Cup Semi-Final Preview: Munster ‘A’ v Leinster ‘A’

The interprovincial derby matches are coming thick and fast now at all levels, the latest of which sees the ‘A’ teams from Leinster and Munster battling it out for a place in the British & Irish Cup final. The Reds are hoping to repeat their win over their arch rivals at this stage of last year’s tournament.


MUNSTER ‘A’ v LEINSTER ‘A’, Dooradoyle, 7.30pm

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Team News: By and large, Munster ‘A’ head coach Ian Costello has managed to keep the same side from the Cornish Pirates game for the semi-final showdown with Leinster in Limerick.

Half-backs JJ Hanrahan and Duncan Williams remain in place, so too do locks Ian Nagle and Dave Foley while the John Ryan’s call-up to the senior squad means a start in the front row for Alan Cotter who replaced Ryan in the quarter-final in Penzance. In the back row Barry O’Mahony starts in place of David O’Callaghan.

Outside Williams and Hanrahan, there is a change in the centre with Ivan Dineen in to partner Danny Barnes in place of Scott Deasy who is listed on a strong bench.

The title holders’ replacements include Marcus Horan and fellow forward Sean Dougall who makes a return from a knee injury he sustained against Connacht.

Munster ‘A’ won the corresponding fixture last season, played at the RDS, and the prize on offer to the winners of the Dooradoyle contest is a trip to the final at the home of either Newcastle Falcons or Bedford Blues.

Meanwhile, Girvan Dempsey’s Leinster ‘A’ charges will kick off a busy weekend for the province as they face into their second consecutive cup semi-final against Munster ‘A’ – their squad is largely young and will be led by back rower Conor Gilsenan.

Cathal Marsh, who made his senior debut away to Zebre last Sunday, partners fellow St. Michael’s College graduate Luke McGrath at half-back, with Noel Reid linking up with a fit-again Adam Byrne in the centre.

Fionn Carr starts at full-back with Andrew Boyle and Sam Coghlan Murray named on the wings.

Michael Bent and Tom Denton, a try scorer in Italy last weekend, are named in a pack which features a number of players who have played for the senior team this year.

Amongst them is Ben Marshall who forms an athletic back row combination with skipper Gilsenan and number 8 Leo Auva’a.

Four Academy players are named on the bench alongside three promising club players, Lansdowne’s Tom Daly, Suttonians scrum half Adam Griggs and Clontarf’s top try-scoring winger Michael McGrath.

MUNSTER ‘A’: Sean Scanlon; Corey Hircock, Danny Barnes, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Duncan Williams; James Cronin, Sean Henry (capt), Alan Cotter, David Foley, Ian Nagle, Niall Ronan, Barry O’Mahony, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Duncan Casey, Marcus Horan, Brian Hayes, Sean Dougall, Johnny Holland, Scott Deasy, Cian Bohane.

LEINSTER ‘A’: Fionn Carr; Andrew Boyle, Adam Byrne, Noel Reid, Sam Coghlan Murray; Cathal Marsh, Luke McGrath; Jack O’Connell, Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Tom Denton, Mark Flanagan, Ben Marshall, Conor Gilsenan (capt), Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: James Tracy, Martin Moore, Tadhg Beirne, Daniel Leavy, Adam Griggs, Tom Daly, Michael McGrath.

Referee: Ian Tempest (England)
Assistant Referees: Eddie Hogan O’Connell, Olly Hodges (both Ireland)

Pre-Match Quotes: Ian Costello (Munster ‘A’) – “We’ve played Leinster ‘A’ and beaten them twice this year, so it makes it extremely difficult to beat the same team three times in the one season.

“They’re an excellent side, it always comes down to one score and any time we’ve beaten them it has come down to us playing at our absolute best, so I think the challenge is that we’ve got to be at our absolute best again and find somewhere to get an extra 10%.

“Our focus will be where we get that extra 10-15% to get the performance we need to beat them. You get a great intensity at these Munster-Leinster ‘A’ games and it’ll be no different this Friday.”

Girvan Dempsey (Leinster ‘A’) – “The senior coaching staff see the benefit of the ‘A’ fixtures. Joe (Schmidt) travelled up for our game in Bristol in the quarters and they put an emphasis on it.

“It is great for the guys that the coaches are backing it. I’m very much enjoying the role, it is very challenging in this environment, but it has been brilliant.

“The Bristol game (in the quarter-finals) was a big one, to see the guys put the game-plan into practice and get good success against a strong Bristol side. I’m looking forward to the challenge of this weekend, putting in the performance and getting us into a final.

“Munster ‘A’ are a very exciting side who have had good success in the competition and they play good rugby. We played them in Limerick on March 12, it was Paul O’Connell’s first game back and that was a great experience for our guys.

“They play an attractive brand of rugby and their pack is very experienced. They will look to test us, but our lads are looking forward to it.”

Top Scorers – 2012/13 British & Irish Cup: Munster ‘A’ – Points: JJ Hanrahan 28, Scott Deasy 25; Tries: Corey Hircock 4, Ronan O’Mahony 3, Danny Barnes 2; Leinster ‘A’ – Points: Noel Reid 63, Brendan Macken 25; Tries: Brendan Macken 5, Leo Auva’a 4, Fionn Carr, Adam Byrne 2 each


MUNSTER ‘A’ – Pld 7, W6, D1, L0 – Pool 7: Won 26-22 away to Plymouth Albion; Won 19-11 at home to Aberavon; Won 36-21 away to Rotherham Titans; Drew 9-9 at home to Rotherham Titans; Won 18-14 away to Aberavon; Won 15-0 at home to Plymouth Albion; Quarter-final: Won 10-9 away to Cornish Pirates

LEINSTER ‘A’ – Pld 7, W5, D1, L1 – Pool 5: Won 47-18 at home to Leeds Carnegie; Lost 25-23 away to Pontypridd; Won 16-12 away to Jersey; Won 44-13 at home to Jersey; Won 21-9 at home to Pontypridd; Drew 30-30 away to Leeds Carnegie; Quarter-final: Won 30-26 away to Bristol


– It took a try from winger Ronan O’Mahony deep into stoppage time against Cornish Pirates for Munster ‘A’ to set up the all-Irish tie and keep their interest in the competition alive

– In winning 10-9 in their quarter-final, Munster ‘A’ exacted revenge for their loss to the Pirates in the inaugural British & Irish Cup final back in 2010

– Leinster ‘A’ had to call on all their reserves to see off Bristol at the Memorial Stadium and book their place in the last-four

– Tries from Andrew Conway, Andrew Goodman, James Tracy and Fionn Carr in addition to 10 points from the boot of Noel Reid helped the Blues to a 30-26 quarter-final victory

– Munster ‘A’ won both provincial ‘A’ team games between the sides this season and beat their arch rivals 36-29 at the RDS in last year’s memorable semi-final encounter