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Dublin: 10°C Friday 26 February 2021
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Big guns return for Munster ahead of Ulster clash in Ravenhill

Rob Penney welcomes back Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls and Conor Murray ahead of his side’s RaboDirect Pro12 encounter on Friday.

Ronan O'Gara returns for another season with Munster.
Ronan O'Gara returns for another season with Munster.
Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

TWO OF THE Pro12 league’s leading sides will put their unbeaten records on the line at Ravenhill this Friday.

Will Mark Anscombe’s men featured Irish internationals Declan Fitzpatrick, Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble in their 16-13 win over Ospreys on Saturday and the Kiwi coach will be looking to start many of his senior international stars.

Munster’s hopes of making it three wins from three will be aided, no doubt, by the return of Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls and Conor Murray.

The trio were afforded a delayed start to the season, owing to their exploits with Ireland over the summer, but will all be eager for significant game time.

Donncha O’Callaghan is also expected to be included having missed last weekend’s win over Treviso while Niall Ronan will also travel north.

Munster have confirmed that Ronan is more likely to feature in the ‘A’ game between the provinces at Deramore Park, home to Belfast Harlequins, on Friday.

Battle of the nines

The clash could pit two of the scrum-halves that toured with the national team during the summer – Conor Murray and Paul Marshall – against each other.

Marshall scored a crucial, late try at Liberty Stadium at the weekend to give his team a 16-13 win over last season’s champions, Ospreys. He said:

I’m expecting Conor Murray to play on Friday night and he’s currently the no1 scrumhalf in Ireland so it will be a big test if I’m selected. But the main thing for me is getting more game time with Ulster.

“Blane McIlroy and Michael Heaney have been playing well so my focus first and foremost is to fight for a place in the Ulster team.”

The fight for Marshall will be made somewhat tougher once Ruan Pienaar returns from international duty with the Springboks but another match-winning performance on Friday would do no harm to his domestic and international prospects.

TheScore.ie will be at Ravenhill on Friday evening, reporting live on Ulster’s clash with Munster.

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Patrick McCarry

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