Munster 27

 

Connacht 14

 

Courtesy of pro14rugby.org

 

Two converted Connacht tries were not enough to overcome a strong Munster who were chasing the top spot of Conference A of the PRO14.

Keen to bury the disappointment of their European loss to Saracens last week, Munster were hit by the loss of Conor Murray in the warm-up.

That brought in Neil Cronin to start at No.9 opposite Kieran Marmion, and it was the latter who edged their early exchanges in an impressive opening quarter for the visitors.

Conor Dean, son of former Triple Crown winner Paul Dean, missed an early kick at goal for Connacht but Tyler Bleyendaal made no mistake at the other end.

But Connacht then got the try their bright start deserved, Bealham on his return from injury grounding cleverly from close range under the posts and Dean adding the extras.

Munster then thought they had mustered an immediate response when Andrew Conway picked off an interception and raced under the posts.

But the winger failed to notice the retreating Stephen Fitzgerald who knocked the ball clear before Conway could ground it and Connacht survived.

That was a short stay of execution however, and Beirne went charging through before rounding Niyi Adeolokun to dot down.

Bleyendaal converted and now Munster were starting to purr. Conway – keen to make up for his error – got free down the right and fed Peter O’Mahony who put Haley clear for their second.

Bleyendaal added the extras for a 17-7 half time lead, Dean missing a late penalty for the visitors in a mixed first-half display for the youngster.

At the start of the second half Munster blew a great chance to extend their lead after a Dan Goggin break but Bleyendaal’s penalty made it 20-7.

The second half became a scrappy affair with tempers fraying and when Jeremy Loughman saw yellow, Connacht finally made their mounting pressure tell as McKeon battered his way over and Dean added the extras.

But no sooner had Connacht given themselves a chance than the 14 men of Munster hit back to put the game to bed, replacement Hanrahan darting under the posts after Sam Arnold’s impressive work in the build-up.

Overall a keenly contested affair but for both sets of supporters, attention will shift to the knock out games next weekend.

Connacht Academy out-half Conor Dean is set to make his debut for the province in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (Kick off 7:35pm). 21 year old Dean is in his first year in the Academy and becomes the seventh player from Connacht’s Academy to be handed a start this season by Head Coach Andy Friend.
 
Dean will form a half back partnership with Irish international scrum half Kieran Marmion. The back line has further international experience with the midfield partnership of Bundee Aki and former Ireland 7s Captain Tom Daly.
 
In the back three, Stephen Fitzgerald returns to Thomond Park to face his former team mates as he is named on the wing, with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing and the experienced Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.
 
Up front, there is good news for Connacht, as tighthead Finlay Bealham has returned from a hand injury to take his place alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Ballinrobe man Matthew Burke at loosehead.
 
In the second row, James Cannon starts alongside Joe Maksymiw, while in the back row Captain Jarrad Butler is named at openside, with Eoin McKeon at blindside and another former Munster man Robin Copeland at number 8.
 
With Connacht already qualified for a PRO14 Quarter Final against Ulster next weekend, Head Coach Andy Friend says there is still much to play for: “Munster are an outstanding side. We saw that when we played them at home earlier in the season and they have been even better since. There is still a huge incentive for our players. We know that these interpro fixtures always bring out the best in our boys and we know that going to Thomond Park is a massive challenge”.
 
“With a quarter final next weekend, we have huge competition in the squad and that is exactly what we need at this stage of the season. This is a big opportunity for everyone involved”, Friend added.
 
 
Kick-off 7:35pm:
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald, Conor Dean, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Matthew Burke, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Robin Copleand.
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Eoghan Masterson, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Darragh Leader.
 

Ahead of Saturday’s interpro with Munster at Thomond Park, Connacht back-row Eoin McKeon spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference.
 
Here are his thoughts on the brilliant win over Cardiff 10 days ago which booked our place in the playoffs, and what he makes of the challenge facing the squad at the weekend.
 

With the EPCR tournaments taking centre stage over the weekend, attention is now back on the Guinness PRO14 this weekend when the 21st and final round of Conference games will be played.
 
Connacht are assured of a place in the Final Series, and they complete their league campaign away to provincial rivals Munster on Saturday at Thomond Park.
 
Ahead of that game the squad trained at The Sportsground this afternoon.

After a gameless week following Connacht’s qualification to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series, Andy Friend’s side complete their Conference campaign this Saturday with a trip to Limerick to face interpro rivals Munster.

While there may not be much to play for, the squad will be looking to keep their winning momentum going after victory in their last four PRO14 ties.

Here’s all you need to know about the tie.

When’s the game?

Kick-off at Thomond Park is at 7.35pm this Saturday 27th April.

What’s the state of play in the race for the playoffs?
 

Both Connacht and Munster have secured a spot in the Final Series, and while we are guaranteed a 3rd place finish, Munster head into the game still on the hunt for top spot in Conference A and a bye to the semi-finals.

Munster sit three points behind leaders Glasgow Warriors who host Edinburgh. A win for Glasgow will guarantee them top spot, but if they slip up then Munster will be hoping to capitalise.

Meanwhile Connacht will finish in 3rd regardless of the result, and will then head to Kingspan Stadium for a quarter-final against Ulster on Saturday 4th May.

How’s our recent record against them?

Connacht’s last victory over the near neighbours came at the Sportsground during the 2017/18 season when the side came from behind to claim a 20-16 win. At Thomond Park the side broke a 29 year hoodoo in 2015 when they won in Limerick by 18 points to 12 thanks to late Bundee Aki try.

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Friday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

Are tickets still available?

Tickets are available directly from Munster Rugby, so if you are intending on heading to the game contact Munster to book your spot.

What if I can’t make the game?

There will be live TV coverage on Eir Sport with the build-up beginning at 7.25pm, while TG4 will have deferred coverage from 9.30pm.

Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane has announced his starting XV to take on Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (Kick Of 7:45pm – Live on TG4). Irish 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 club and he is joined in the front row by Hooker Tom McCartney and tight head 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 Pita Ahki form the new centre partnership and the back three is made up or Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy on the wings. Caolin Blade comes in at scrum half and will play alongside Jack Carty. Among the replacements, prop Conan O’Donnell and back row Paul Boyle make the step up from the Connacht Academy.

 

Speaking ahead of the clash with Munster, Connacht Head Coach Kieran 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”.

 

#MUNvCON

Kick-off 7:45pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Pita Ahki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade,
(1-8) Peter McCabe, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Cillian Gallagher, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.

 

 

 

 

The Connacht Medical team have issued a squad update ahead of their interprovincial clash with Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (K.O. at 7:45pm). Cian Kelleher is the only new injury concern after the New Year’s Day fixture away to Leinster and has been ruled out of the Munster game.

 

Prop:
Denis Buckley underwent surgery this week on an ankle injury sustained versus Brive last month and will be out of action until mid-February.

Dominic Robertson McCoy has returned to full team training this week following his thumb injury.

JP Cooney is recovering from recent hamstring surgery and will be out of action until April.

 

Hooker:

Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the medical and performance team.

 

Lock:
Andrew Browne has stepped up his rehabilitation from his Achilles injury and will return to action in early January.

 

Outhalf:

Steve Crosbie will be out of action until the end of January with a knee injury.

 

Back Row:
Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will be out of action until the end of January.

James Connolly is continuing his recovery from a recent calf injury and is due to integrate into team training next week.

Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery and will return to team training in late January.

Jake Heenan is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out of action until April.

 

Back Three:
Cian Kelleher sustained a head injury in the game versus Leinster and will follow return to play protocols.

Rory Scholes has returned to full team training this week following his appendix surgery.

Cormac Brennan will return in February following shoulder surgery.

Ahead of the final round of Guinness PRO12 action this season, head coach Pat Lam has made eleven changes to his side to face Munster at Thomond Park tomorrow (5:15pm, live on TG4).

Tiernan O’Halloran, who was today named on the PRO12 Dream Team of the Season, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher and Andrew Browne are the only players retained in the starting XV following the defeat to Scarlets six days ago.

Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion make up the half back pairing for the trip to Limerick while last week’s try scorer Craig Ronaldson is named in midfield with Farrell. Prop Conor Carey makes his return from long term injury in a new front row with Denis Buckley and Shane Delahunt.

In the back row, John Muldoon returns to captain the side and is joined by flankers Eoin McKeon and James Connolly.

Replacement prop JP Cooney will make his 50th appearance for the province if called upon from the bench tomorrow afternoon.

Commenting on the upcoming game, Pat Lam said:

“With this being our final game before the European play off, there is no question that we need an improved performance in Limerick tomorrow. With quite a few changes from last weekend, it’s an opportunity for those guys selected to drive that improvement.

“Winning only once in 29 years in Thomond Park emphasises the challenge we face tomorrow.  With the way Munster are playing as a team this season, there is no doubt that challenge has got even tougher.  

“At the end of the day it’s a derby game with a lot on the line for both teams and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Connacht team to face Munster

Saturday, May 6th, kick off 5.15pm, Thomond Park

(Connacht caps in brackets)

15        Tiernan O’Halloran (126)
14        Danie Poolman (84)
13        Tom Farrell (8)
12        Craig Ronaldson (66)
11        Cian Kelleher (12)
10        Jack Carty (79)
9          Kieran Marmion (119)

1           Denis Buckley (117)
2           Shane Delahunt (27)
3           Conor Carey (10)
4           Quinn Roux (56)
5           Andrew Browne (154)
6           Eoin McKeon (106)
7           James Connolly (22)
8           John Muldoon (301) (captain)

Replacements:

16        Dave Heffernan (83)
17        JP Cooney (49)
18        Finlay Bealham (81)
19        Sean O’Brien (38)
20        Naulia Dawai (11)
21        John Cooney (38)
22        Marnitz Boshoff (3)
23        Darragh Leader (52)

Injured/unavailable: Tom McCartney, Ronan Loughney, Ultan Dillane, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Steve Crosbie, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili, Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun, Josh Rowland.

MUNSTER v CONNACHT
Saturday 6th May
At Thomond Park, 5.15pm.
Live on TG4

Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 51st competition game)

Did you know?

  • Connacht have won three of their last five fixtures with Munster, but did slip up 9-16 in Galway in round 12.
  • Last season Connacht won at Thomond Park for the first time since 1986.
  • Connacht have made the European Champions Cup Play-offs but their only win in the last five rounds of the Guinness PRO12 was at Edinburgh on 7 April.
  • Munster have secured a home Semi-Final for only the second time in the last seven seasons but if they are to overhaul Leinster to become top seeds they will need a win in this game and hope that their rivals trip up.
  • The Munstermen have won their last five Guinness PRO12 encounters, whilst their only defeat since round 6 was at home to Scarlets on 24 February.

 

Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record:

Played 29, Munster won 24, Connacht won 4 and 1 game drawn.

 

MUNSTER v CONNACHT

Saturday 6th May

At Thomond Park, 5.15pm.
Live on TG4
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 51st competition game)

Assistant Referees:  TBC

Citing Commissioner:  Wayne Sheridan (IRFU)

TMO: TBC

 

HEAD TO HEAD – RECENT GUINNESS PRO12 MEETINGS
Date Venue M C Munster scorers Connacht scorers
Sat 19 Apr 14 Sportsground 32 23 Andrew Conway(T) Paddy Butler(T) Denis Hurley(T) Ian Keatley(3C/2P) Gerhard van den Heever(T) Matt Healy(T) Danie Poolman(T) Eoin McKeon(T) Dan Parks(C) Miah Nikora(2P)
Thu 1 Jan 15 Sportsground 16 24 Peter O’Mahony(T) Ian Keatley(C/3P) Kieran Marmion(T) Darragh Leader(2C) Aly Muldowney(T) Miah Nikora(P) Craig Ronaldson(T/C)
Sat 28 Mar 15 Thomond Park 42 20 Duncan Casey(T) Andrew Smith(T) Keith Earls(T) JJ Hanrahan(3C) Billy Holland(T) Denis Hurley(T) Ian Keatley(3C) Simon Zebo(T) Jack Carty(2P) Shane O’Leary(T) Miah Nikora(T/2C)
Sat 28 Nov 15 Thomond Park 12 18 Niall Scannell(T) Ian Keatley(C) Penalty Try(T) Tiernan O’Halloran(T) Bundee Aki(T) Craig Ronaldson(C/2P)
Sat 16 Apr 16 Sportsground 14 35 Johnny Holland(2C) Mike Sherry(T) Simon Zebo(T) Finlay Bealham(T) Shane O’Leary(3C/3P) Niyi Adeolokun(2T) Penalty Try(T)
Sat 31 Dec 16 Sportsground 16 9 Rhys Marshall(T) Ian Keatley(C/D/2P) Jack Carty(3P)

 

 

COMPARISON Munster Connacht
Last 3 PRO12 results: 8 Apr – Glasgow (H) W 10-7 7 Apr – Edinburgh (A) W 22-19
  15 Apr – Ulster (H) W 22-20 15 Apr – Leinster (H) L 24-37
  29 Apr – Treviso (A) W 34-14 29 Apr – Scarlets (H) L 8-30
 
PRO12 2016/17 2nd – W18 D0 L3 – 81pts 8th – W9 D0 L12 – 44pts
Last 6 PRO12 form LwwWWw (22pts) WllwLL (10pts)
Top try scorer 9 – Ronan O’Mahony 6 – Niyi Adeolokun
Top points scorer 126 – Tyler Bleyendaal 70 – Jack Carty

 

 

Ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 game away to Munster, the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.

Kieran Marmion has returned to full training and is available for selection.

Marnitz Boshoff, Cian Kelleher and Darragh Leader all came through last Saturday’s game versus Scarlets with no ill effects.

Steve Crosbie sustained an AC joint injury in the game versus Leinster and is continuing his rehabilitation.

Eoin Griffin is following GRTP protocols following a head injury sustained in the Scarlets game.

Josh Rowland sustained a foot injury in training last week and will be out of action for a number of weeks.

Munster v Connacht
At Thomond Park, 5.15pm.
Live on TG4 
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 51st competition game)
Assistant Referees:  TBC
Citing Commissioner:  Wayne Sheridan (IRFU)
TMO: TBC

 

 

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