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Cronin Returns To Leinster Line-Up For First Festive Derby

Cronin Returns To Leinster Line-Up For First Festive Derby

Experienced hooker Sean Cronin powers forward during Leinster's GUINNESS PRO14 semi-final win over Munster at the RDS last May ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Sean Cronin returns from a neck injury to feature in the Leinster line-up for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO14 showdown with provincial rivals Ulster at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm).

21-year-old Academy ace Tommy O’Brien steps up for his senior debut at outside centre, joining forces with Robbie Henshaw. Match tickets are available to buy online here.

O’Brien has played for the Ireland Under-20s and Leinster ‘A’, most recently catching the eye in the Energia All-Ireland League with UCD. He is a former Leinster Schools 110m hurdles champion and his father and sister both represented Ireland in athletics.

Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden and Cian Kelleher link up together in the back-three, while O’Brien’s Academy colleague, Harry Byrne, comes in at out-half for his second start for Leinster having played against the Dragons last month.

Jamison Gibson-Park, who is part of the Ireland mid-season stocktake squad, will partner Byrne at half-back, and the fit-again Cronin’s seasonal bow will see him combine with Peter Dooley and Andrew Porter in the front row.

Scott Fardy, who is joined by Josh Murphy in the second row, takes the captaincy reins this week. Will Connors and Max Deegan, two more of Leinster’s Ireland call-ups, feature in the back row alongside 20-year-old openside Scott Penny.

LEINSTER (v Ulster): Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Tommy O’Brien, Robbie Henshaw, Cian Kelleher; Harry Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Sean Cronin, Andrew Porter, Scott Fardy (capt), Josh Murphy, Will Connors, Scott Penny, Max Deegan.

Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Cian Healy, Jack Aungier, Oisin Dowling, Josh van der Flier, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ciaran Frawley, Conor O’Brien.