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Connacht young guns set for milestones as Friend shakes things up for Edinburgh clash

The Sportsground hosts tomorrow night’s action.

Oran McNulty is in line for his professional debut off the bench.
Oran McNulty is in line for his professional debut off the bench.
Image: ©INPHOJames Crombie

THREE CONNACHT YOUNGSTERS are set for milestones in tomorrow’s Pro14 clash with Edinburgh at The Sportsground [KO 7.35pm, live on TG4 and eir Sport 2].

Cian Prendergast and Sean O’Brien have been handed their first starts, with Oran McNulty set for his first professional appearance off the bench.

It was announced yesterday that two of the Academy trio — Prendergast and McNulty — had both signed pro contracts for the 2021/22 season.

And now with Champions Cup rugby already secured, Andy Friend has unveiled a much-changed, but exciting, squad for tomorrow night’s meeting on home soil.

Hooker Shane Delahunt is joined by props Denis Buckley and Jack Aungier in the front row, while Niall Murray partners Gavin Thornbury in the second; the latter coming in off the back of a stunning Player of the Match performance against Munster last week.

Jarrad Butler will captain the side from openside flanker with Predergast on the other wing and Eoghan Masterson at eight. 

Jack Carty continues at out-half, and is partnered by Kieran Marmion, while Tom Daly joins O’Brien at centre. In the back three, it’s Matt Healy, O’Donnell and the in-form Alex Wootton — whose deal was made permanent yesterday.

“Securing a top-three finish with games to spare gives us a really good opportunity to give more minutes to players who have been knocking on the door all season,” Friend said, with all pro players and management again returning negative results in the latest round of Covid testing.

“That said, we are still going out there as eager as ever to pick up another win. It would be another positive step for us to secure second place in the Conference so that’s what we’ll look to do, and the task for this group of players is to build on last week’s performance against Munster.”

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Connacht

15. Alex Wootton
14. Ben O’Donnell
13. Sean O’Brien
12. Tom Daly
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty 
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Jack Aungier
4. Niall Murray
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Cian Prendergast
7. Jarrad Butler — captain
8. Eoghan Masterson

Replacements

16. Jonny Murphy
17. Jordan Duggan
18. Conor Kenny
19. Abraham Papali’I
20. Conor Oliver
21. Caolin Blade
22. Conor Fitzgerald
23. Oran McNulty

Edinburgh 

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