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Ex-Roscommon minor handed first Connacht start for Leinster showdown

Niall Murray will partner up with Gavin Thornbury in the second row.

Connacht's Niall Murray.
Connacht's Niall Murray.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

FORMER ROSCOMMON MINOR footballer Niall Murray is set to make his first start for Connacht in their Guinness Pro14 clash with Leinster on Saturday at the RDS [KO, 5.30pm, Eir Sport 1 and Premier Sports].

The 20-year-old comes into the starting line-up after making a substitute appearance in Connacht’s dramatic Champions Cup victory over Gloucester last month.

Murray is joined in the second row by Gavin Thornbury, who returns to the side after picking up an arm injury against the Cheetahs at the end of October.

Denis Buckley comes back into the front row where he will link up with hooker Shane Delahunt and Dominic Robertson McCoy at tighthead.

Eoghan Masterson is named in the backrow while his brother Sean, who is also an Academy player, is included among the replacements. 

Caolin Blade captains the side at scrum-half in the absence of the injured Jarrad Butler where he will continue his half-back partnership with Conor Fitzgerald.

There is a new look back three for Connacht with Stephen Fitzgerald named at full back and Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings. Tom Daly and the versatile Kyle Godwin will pair up at midfield.

“I am delighted for Niall Murray who gets his first start in a Connacht jersey and there is no bigger challenge for him than going to the RDS to face Leinster,” said Connacht head coach Andy Friend ahead of Saturday’s game.

“He has really developed his game and is an exciting prospect for the future. He has a good group of experienced heads around him so that is always a help when you’re making your first start”.

Connacht:

15. Stephen Fitzgerald
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Kyle Godwin
12. Tom Daly
11. John Porch
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. Caolin Blade (Capt)

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1. Denis Buckley
2. Shane Delahunt
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Niall Murray
5. Gavin Thornbury
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Paul Boyle
8. Robin Copeland

Replacements:
16. Tom McCartney
17. Paddy McAllister
18. Conor Kenny
19. Joe Maksymiw
20. Sean Masterson
21. Stephen Kerins
22. David Horwitz
23. Tiernan O’Halloran

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