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Dublin: 1°C Friday 7 May 2021
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Best mates Swift and McCarthy will be gunning for each other - Adrian Flavin

Connacht versus Leinster will be decided at the breakdown but keep an eye out for the battle of the heavy-hitters.

Mike McCarthy celebrates with Michael Swift after scoring a late try  against Edinburgh in 2012.
Mike McCarthy celebrates with Michael Swift after scoring a late try against Edinburgh in 2012.
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

FOR THE FIRST Christmas in 16 years I was off and did not have an upcoming rugby match to be thinking about. It was quite a shock to the system but I managed to have a good time.

We have another set of interprovincial games coming up and, as far as Connacht and Leinster are concerned, they will be looking to give games to some of the big players ahead of the Heineken Cup.

For Leinster, that could mean starts for Rob Kearney, Gordon D’Arcy and Jamie Heaslip, although Jordi Murphy is doing a pretty good job in his place. Connacht will have Michael Swift and Ronan Loughney back, or they should as both took full parts in training this week.

They will hope to have Jake Heenan available too. Before he picked up his injury [against Dragons], he was Connacht’s stand-out player along with Kieran Marmion, who I’m always banging on about. He has been fantastic and is going from strength to strength. I would expect him to be in either the Wolfhounds or Six Nations squad when it is named later this month.

The breakdown, as always, will be key. Leinster need quick ball so it will be up to the Connacht lads to put them on the back foot from the off. Leinster, themselves, are very good at slowing down opposition ball with guys like Sean Cronin and Jamie Heaslip not afraid to stick their heads in. Dominic Ryan had a good game when he came on for [the injured] Sean O’Brien against Ulster. The tussle up front will be important and both backlines have so much talent — names like Henshaw, Griffin, Carr, the Kearneys, O’Driscoll, Fitzgerald.

The battle I’m looking forward to most is Michael Swift going up against Mike McCarthy. It’s best mate versus best mate and they’ll be looking for each other so watch out for one or two collisions.

imageSwift and McCarthy with Andrew Browne at the end of last season. INPHO/Billy Stickland.

When Mike was with Connacht and those two were training together, let me tell you, they were no shrinking violets. They had a couple of tasty clashes in training and I’ve had encounters with both of them. I was suffering from short, angry hooker syndrome at the time but thankfully that has cleared.

If Swift and McCarthy are both selected [for Connacht and Leinster respectively], expect them to come together and expect it to be one of the biggest collisions of the weekend.

I played in the 34-6 win over Leinster last season and, though we played superbly that day, there is nothing I could really put my finger on as to why it clicked. It often amuses me to hear people asking players before big games if they will draw extra motivation. You’re motivated each week and an interpro is no different.

It was a clear enough night, by Galway standards, for that game last season and I know the lads will be happy if conditions are similar at the weekend. There is a myth that Connacht always want it to be chucking it down with rain. I was in a few pre-match dressing room [at the Sportsground] when it was lashing on the roof and I never once remember thinking ‘Yes!’

@adrianflavin played 159 times for Connacht between 2006 and 2013 and earned two Ireland Wolfhounds caps.

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About the author:

Adrian Flavin  / Former Connacht hooker

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