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McCabe And Gallagher To Start Up Front For Connacht

McCabe And Gallagher To Start Up Front For Connacht

Connacht head coach Kieran Keane has made eight changes to the team to take on Munster at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm). Ireland Internationals Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and Bundee Aki are all rested this weekend in an effort to manage their game-time.

Prop Peter McCabe is given a start against his former province and is joined in the front row by hooker Tom McCartney and tighthead Conor Carey. Quinn Roux comes into the second row, and there is a third start of the season in the back row for 20-year-old Sligo native and Academy player Cillian Gallagher.

Eoin Griffin and the newly-married Pita Ahki form a new centre partnership and the back-three is made up of Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy on the wings.

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Caolin Blade comes in at scrum half and will play alongside Jack Carty, who is the third top points scorer in the PRO14 so far this season with 85 points. Among the replacements, young prop Conan O’Donnell and back rower Paul Boyle, who captained the Ireland Under-20s last summer, make the step up from the Connacht Academy.

Speaking ahead of the round 13 clash with Munster, Connacht’s Kieran Keane said: “We have come through a series of big games and some guys have seen a lot of game-time. Our internationals, in particular, are due a break especially with the Six Nations just around the corner.

“The squad is in a really good place at the moment. Obviously, we felt we could and should have won against Leinster and we came very close. We did the review during the week, we identified where we came up short and now we move on. The performance and effort levels from the boys over the past few weeks has been top quality, and particularly in the interpro series we have seen some real character. 

“We have some changes in personnel for the Munster game so there are opportunities for other guys to show what they are capable of. Munster will be hurting after their two games over the Christmas period and at home they will be a massive challenge.

“They have quality all over the park and I’m sure they will be really determined to get back to winning ways before they get back to European competition.”
CONNACHT (v Munster): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Pita Ahki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Peter McCabe, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Cillian Gallagher, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.