Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has announced his team for Friday’s Bank of Ireland pre-season match against Bath at Donnybrook (kick-off 7.30pm).
After the impressive showing last weekend against Gloucester, Leo Cullen has again made numerous changes to his matchday squad – although some of them are enforced. Peter Dooley picked up a bicep tendon injury in the Gloucester game and will be out for a few weeks, while fellow front rower Bryan Byrne will also miss the next few weeks having twisted his knee.
Josh Murphy suffered a hairline fracture to his jaw and will be out for the next four weeks, and finally, Oisin Dowling was replaced near the end of the 50-14 win for a HIA and has entered the return-to-play protocols.
Cullen was happy, though, to report that Ireland internationals Jordi Murphy, Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden all came through the match with no issues having missed significant periods of last season through injury. Murphy, McFadden and Dave Kearney are again included in Friday night’s squad as a result.
Jordan Larmour, who scored two tries off the bench last week, is included from the start at full-back with McFadden on the right wing and Barry Daly on the left. Academy duo Conor O’Brien and Jimmy O’Brien start in midfield, with the latter having been a late withdrawal against Gloucester due to illness. It is the same starting half-back combination this week with Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne both retained.
Up front for the province, Ed Byrne starts at loosehead prop with Michael Bent at tight head and current Ireland Under-20 international Ronan Kelleher at hooker. It will be the 19-year-old Kelleher’s first senior start for Leinster in his first year in the province’s Academy.
Ross Molony captains the side from the second row with Clontarf’s Mick Kearney alongside him. Caelan Doris, another player who impressed for the Ireland U-20s this year, makes his first appearance of pre-season at blindside flanker with Will Connors and Max Deegan completing the pack.
There is an extended 16-man bench for the clash with Bath, as Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Joey Carbery are in line to make their first appearances of the pre-season run. Tickets for Leinster v Bath are still on sale here with cash also taken at the turnstiles at Donnybrook.
LEINSTER (v Bath): Jordan Larmour; Fergus McFadden, Jimmy O’Brien, Conor O’Brien, Barry Daly; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Ed Byrne, Ronan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Ross Molony (capt), Mick Kearney, Caelan Doris, Will Connors, Max Deegan.
Replacements: Sean McNulty, Vakh Abdaladze, Oisin Heffernan, Ian Nagle, Peadar Timmins, Nick McCarthy, Cathal Marsh, Adam Byrne, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Jordi Murphy, Joey Carbery, Dave Kearney, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan.