Connacht head coach Kieran Keane has named his starting XV for Friday night’s eagerly-awaited interprovincial clash with Munster at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm).
John Muldoon returns to captain the side with Kieran Marmion, Ultan Dillane, Finlay Bealham, Tom McCartney, Tom Farrell, Jarrad Butler and Cian Kelleher also coming into the starting team.
Tiernan O’Halloran starts at full-back with Darragh Leader and Kelleher on the two flanks. Farrell joins Bundee Aki in the centre as Marmion and Jack Carty form the half-back partnership.
Bealham, McCartney and Denis Buckley make up the front row with Dillane and James Cannon in the second row. Muldoon’s return sees him wear the number 8 jersey with Eoin McKeon in at blindside and Butler at openside.
Niyi Adeolokun, who underwent knee surgery at the end of last season, is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this season following two outings with Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup.
Speaking ahead of the GUINNESS PRO14 derby, Kieran Keane said: “There has been constant improvement from the lads, which has been refreshing for us. It has become pretty clear to me these local derbies are really important to the players, and they have been putting their hands up because they really want to play, so it brings excitement. I am excited by the occasion as much as they are.”
Due to the very high demand for Connacht v Munster tickets, additional terracing is being installed at the Sportsground to cater for the increased capacity.
CONNACHT (v Munster): Tiernan O’Halloran; Darragh Leader, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.