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Doris, Marsh And Adam Byrne To Start For Leinster ‘A’

Doris, Marsh And Adam Byrne To Start For Leinster ‘A’

Head coach Noel McNamara has named the Leinster ‘A’ team to face Jersey Reds in Saturday’s British & Irish Cup semi-final clash at St. Peter’s (kick-off 3pm).

Leinster ‘A’ qualified for the knockout stages after topping Pool 2 with 26 points. They were then drawn to face Munster ‘A’ in a quarter-final at Energia Park, with Noel McNamara’s men winning out 17-6 in a hard-fought contest. Tries from Peadar Timmins and Jack Kelly, plus seven points from the boot of Ciaran Frawley, made sure of the win on Good Friday.

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Speaking to Leinster Rugby TV about the victory over Munster, head coach McNamara said: “I think the most important thing that day was to get through to the semi-final this weekend. In terms of the performance, the quality of effort and character shown by the boys, particularly late in the game, was first class.

“It wasn’t a classic – the conditions were difficult – and it was obviously our first game in a while. But I think it was really pleasing to show how they applied themselves and how much it meant to them to get through to the semi-final.”

Bryan Byrne will captain the province again and is joined in the front row by his twin brother, Ed, and Vakh Abdaladze. Mick Kearney and Ian Nagle are also retained in the second row.

The only change to the pack comes in the back row where Caelan Doris slots in at number 8 after a spell on the sidelines. Doris’ return sees Josh Murphy don the number 6 jersey, while Timmins starts at openside flanker.

There are two personnel changes to the back-line from the quarter-final three weeks ago. Cathal Marsh makes his return from a toe injury to pair up with Charlie Rock at half-back. Ciaran Frawley moves to full-back, Ireland Under-20 captain Tommy O’Brien features on the left wing again and Adam Byrne, on the opposite flank, adds his senior experience to the back-three.

The centre pairing of Conor O’Brien and Gavin Mullin is also retained for the semi-final trip. Tom Daly, who is listed among the replacements, could make a return to action for the first time since Leinster’s pre-season game away to Perpignan back in August.

Daly picked up an ACL injury in France but has returned to fitness in time to play a part in the province’s B&I Cup campaign. He had a 40-minute run-out with Lansdowne in their 26-17 Ulster Bank League win over Buccaneers last Saturday.

McNamara added: “The preparation has gone well this week. We know that Jersey are a good side. They’re going to be really well prepped and really up for it this weekend. We’re under no illusions as to the challenge that faces us.

“They were in the final last year against Munster ‘A’ and were unlucky not to come away with it. All you have to do is look at their results over the last few weeks. They went up to Bristol and were the only side that won at Ashton Gate this year in the Championship. That just reflects the quality of the side that they have.

“They’re capable of being very direct, very confrontational in their pack, but also they’ve got some real threats in their back-three. It’s going to be a comprehensive test and we’re going to have to play very much at the peak of our powers if we want to get through to the final.”

LEINSTER ‘A’ (v Jersey Reds): Ciaran Frawley; Adam Byrne, Gavin Mullin, Conor O’Brien, Tommy O’Brien; Cathal Marsh, Charlie Rock; Ed Byrne, Bryan Byrne (capt), Vakh Abdaladze, Mick Kearney, Ian Nagle, Josh Murphy, Peadar Timmins, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Sean McNulty, Peter Dooley, Oisin Dowling, Will Connors, Hugh O’Sullivan, Tom Daly, Jack Kelly.