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

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

Leinster ‘A’ put their British & Irish Cup title on the line tonight when they host familiar foes Munster ‘A’ in an eagerly-awaited quarter-final clash at Donnybrook.


LEINSTER ‘A’ v MUNSTER ‘A’, Donnybrook, 7pm

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Team News: The Leinster ‘A’ team to face Munster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook on Friday evening has been announced.

Girvan Dempsey’s men go in to the quarter-final tie with an unbeaten record from the pool stages, with six wins from six against Welsh side Cross Keys and English Championship teams Moseley and Ealing Trailfinders.

The Leinster starting line-up contains 11 players who have featured for the senior team in the RaboDirect PRO12 at some point this season.

Darren Hudson, who starts at full-back, scored a pair of crucial tries against Zebre and the Dragons in February which secured two try-scoring bonus points.

Sam Coghlan Murray, who will start on the right wing against Munster ‘A’, also featured regularly for the senior side during the Six Nations period, with Andrew Boyle completing the back-three.

Noel Reid, who has picked up more game-time and more tries with the senior team this season, will start in midfield alongside Colm O’Shea. Cathal Marsh and Luke McGrath complete the starting back-line.

In the forwards Jack Conan, who had a try-scoring debut for Leinster against Cardiff Blues in February, will line out in the back row alongside captain Dominic Ryan and Ben Marshall.

Quinn Roux and Tom Denton combine in the second row for the province, with Jack O’Connell, hooker James Tracy and Martin Kelly forming a formidable front row.

Tickets for Leinster ‘A’ v Munster ‘A’ – stand (€;15) and terrace (€;10 for adults and €;5 for Under-18s) – are available to purchase via Ticketmaster here. You can also pay at the ground on the night.

Meanwhile, head coach Peter Malone has named a strong starting line-up for his Munster ‘A’ side’s Dublin showdown with defending champions Leinster ‘A’.

Malone’s charges will be looking for a reversal of the semi-final result last season when Leinster ‘A’ beat Munster ‘A’ 17-15 at Dooradoyle.

Paddy Butler and Billy Holland both start for Munster ‘A’ and there are two sets of the brothers in the selected team – flanker Barry O’Mahony captains the side with brother Ronan at full-back, and Niall Scannell starts at hooker with brother Rory at out-half.

Ronan O’Mahony will be looking to add to his six tries in six British & Irish Cup appearances so far this season, with Andrew Conway and Luke O’Dea joining him in the back-three.

Ivan Dineen and Cian Bohane form the centre partnership and Rory Scannell is joined in the half-backs by Gerry Hurley.

Academy loosehead prop Niall Horan starts in the front row with Dolphin duo Niall Scannell and Brian Scott.

There is a good blend of youth and experience in the second row with Holland partnering Academy player Darren O’Shea.

Barry O’Mahony captains the side from the back row where he is joined by the experienced Butler, who makes his second British & Irish Cup appearance of the season, and Academy player Shane Buckley.

Young Munster hooker Ger Slattery, who scored two tries against Zebre in the PRO12 in December, starts on the bench.

The other six replacements are all members of the Greencore Munster Academy. Cork Constitution prop Rory Burke, Shannon lock Sean McCarthy and UL Bohemians back rower Jack O’Donoghue complete the forward cover.

Young Munster scrum half Brian Haugh, UL Bohemians back-three specialist David Johnston and Cork Con centre Niall Kenneally will all be hoping to make an impact.

It is the first involvement in a British & Irish Cup squad for Burke, Johnston and McCarthy, who has endured an injury-hit season.

Out-half Johnny Holland misses out as he follows the IRB return-to-play protocols after his concussion against Connacht Eagles last month.

LEINSTER ‘A’: Darren Hudson; Sam Coghlan Murray, Colm O’Shea, Noel Reid, Andrew Boyle; Cathal Marsh, Luke McGrath; Jack O’Connell, James Tracy, Martin Kelly, Tom Denton, Quinn Roux, Ben Marshall, Dominic Ryan (capt), Jack Conan.

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Edward Byrne, Ross Molony, Leo Auva’a, John Cooney, Steve Crosbie, Thomas Daly.

MUNSTER ‘A’: Ronan O’Mahony; Andrew Conway, Cian Bohane, Ivan Dineen, Luke O’Dea; Rory Scannell, Gerry Hurley; Niall Horan, Niall Scannell, Brian Scott, Darren O’Shea, Billy Holland, Shane Buckley, Barry O’Mahony (capt), Paddy Butler.

Replacements: Ger Slattery, Rory Burke, Sean McCarthy, Jack O’Donoghue, Brian Haugh, David Johnston, Niall Kenneally.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Small, Jonathan Healy (both England)

Pre-Match Quotes: Girvan Dempsey (Leinster ‘A’) – “I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve had great rivalries with Munster over the years. Obviously the (British & Irish Cup) semi-final two years ago in the RDS and we went down to Dooradoyle last year and played really well in the semi-final.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd. If we can drum up support and get them in to Donnybrook on Friday night I think it would be fantastic.

“If you look at the team and the way they’ve tried to play rugby, it’s exciting, and to see the guys step up through the international windows in November and during the Six Nations, they’ve gone well in the PRO12 and they’ve shown the form they showed in the ‘A’ matches has stood them in good stead when they’ve stepped up to the seniors.

“We’d hope to get a good crowd in to Donnybrook and get the crowd behind us and continue on the good vein of form.”

Peter Malone (Munster ‘A’) – “It’s a big test. There’s a great rivalry over the last three years between Leinster ‘A’ and Munster ‘A’.

“Certainly, you couldn’t ask for a bigger test than going to Donnybrook on a Friday night to play Leinster in a quarter-final. It’s a big challenge and we’re looking forward to it.

“We won it two years ago and Leinster won it last year. To win the competition is the main thing and Leinster are the team standing in our way.

“That’s the main priority, the history and tradition is great but the main thing is winning the game for the sake of getting to the semi-finals and that’s the main focus for us.

“We’re very happy with the squad. Most of the guys have been involved with us over the course of the British & Irish Cup campaign and we’ve got a few younger guys on the bench who’ll get their opportunity.”

Top Scorers – 2013/14 British & Irish Cup: Leinster ‘A’ – Points: Cathal Marsh 66; Tries: Leo Auva’a, Darragh Fanning 3 each; Munster ‘A’ – Points: Johnny Holland 41; Tries: Ronan O’Mahony 6


LEINSTER ‘A’ – Pld 6, W6, D0, L0 – Pool 1: Won 49-8 at home to Ealing Trailfinders; Won 24-22 away to Moseley; Won 31-0 at home to Cross Keys; Won 30-14 away to Cross Keys; Won 23-13 at home to Moseley; Won 14-13 away to Ealing Trailfinders

MUNSTER ‘A’ – Pld 6, W5, D0, L1 – Pool 4: Won 39-8 at home to Stirling County; Won 17-16 away to Nottingham; Lost 17-7 away to Plymouth Albion; Won 23-9 at home to Plymouth Albion; Won 30-15 at home to Nottingham; Won 31-5 away to Stirling County


– Leinster ‘A’ are the reigning British & Irish Cup champions having beaten Newcastle Falcons 18-17 after extra-time in last year’s final. They beat Munster ‘A’ 17-15 at the quarter-final stage in Limerick

– Munster ‘A’ became the first Irish side to lift the trophy when they overcame Cross Keys 31-12 in the 2012 decider in Cork. Three weeks earlier, they were 36-29 extra-time winners over Leinster ‘A’ in a memorable semi-final at the RDS

– Munster ‘A’ enjoyed recent home and away victories over Connacht Eagles (15-12 in Galway and 32-26 in Limerick), while Leinster ‘A’ recorded a 31-10 triumph over Ulster Ravens in Belfast last month

– Leinster ‘A’ out-half Cathal Marsh is the top points scorer in this season’s British & Irish Cup with 66 points, while Munster ‘A’ flyer Ronan O’Mahony had an impressive return of six tries in the pool stages (including four in his last four outings)

– Leinster ‘A’ won all six pool games for the first time in their history and topped their pool for the third year in a row

– Munster ‘A’ produced back-to-back bonus point wins over Nottingham and Stirling County in January to seal second spot in Pool 4 and a place in the quarter-finals