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Hanrahan and Keatley team up for Pro12 clash as Ryan and McSharry back from injury

Here’s how Munster and Connacht will line up against Zebre and Edinburgh tomorrow.

Cathal Sheridan upstaged by Donnacha Ryan.
Cathal Sheridan upstaged by Donnacha Ryan.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

MUNSTER COACH ROB Penney has been able to call upon the fit-again Donnacha Ryan for tomorrow’s home Pro12 meeting with Zebre.

The outgoing Kiwi coach has also handed starts to Tommy O’Donnell and Felix Jones; returning to the provincial fold after being part of the match-day group for Ireland’s win over Wales.

Outside of the returns, perhaps the most eye-catching selection is Penney’s decision to start with the 10-12 axis of JJ Hanrahan and Ian Keatley against the Italian side.

The two out-halves played in tandem for a period during the Heineken Cup win over Edinburgh, but onlookers at Musgrave Park will be interested to see how they fare from the start.

Simon Zebo continues on the left wing, hoping the extra creative influence in midfield will be to the benefit of he and Gerhard van den Heever. Johne Murphy partners Keatley in the centre.

Up front, CJ Stander is given an opportunity to impress at number eight with O’Donnell and Dave O’Callaghan flanking him.

Billy Holland captains the side alongside Ryan in the second row, meaning Donncha O’Callaghan will have to wait before earning his record 241st cap.

Munster: Felix Jones; Gerhard van den Heever, Johne Murphy, Ian Keatley, Simon Zebo; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Duncan Casey, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Billy Holland (Capt); Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, CJ Stander.Replacements: Ger Slattery, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Donncha O’Callaghan, Sean Dougall, Duncan Williams, Denis Hurley, Andrew Conway.

Connacht, meanwhile, have been boosted by the fitness of Dave McSharry.

The centre made his return from ankle injury for the Connacht Eagles last weekend, but comes back into his favoured number 12 shirt.

McSharry’s introduction alongside Eoin Griffin means Craig Ronaldson reverts to out-half, partnered by Kieran Marmion. Tiernan O’Halloran is the second of three changes, taking up a left wing berth with Fionn Carr and Robbie Henshaw completing the back three.

John Muldoon captains the side from number eight, but it’s the addition of Michael Swift in the second row which gives head coach Pat Lam cause for optimism.

“Tiernan (O’Halloran) is a player who has worked hard to earn his place in the team,” says Lam,”he went away to work on certain aspects of his game over the last few weeks and it was clear from his performance with the Eagles that he deserves this start.

“With such a physical game expected against a team like Edinburgh, it’s good to be able to call on Swifty for his experience and grunt up front.”

Connacht (v Edinburgh): Robbie Henshaw; Fionn Carr, Eoin Griffin, Dave McSharry, Tiernan O’Halloran; Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion: Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You; Mick Kearney, Michael Swift, Andrew Browne, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, JP Cooney, Aly Muldowney, George Naoupu, Paul O’Donohoe, Dan Parks, Darragh Leader.

Donnacha O’Callaghan set to surpass O’Gara as Munster’s most capped player

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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