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Sean O'Brien to 8 as McKeon returns for Connacht's clash with in-form Edinburgh

Richard Cockerill’s men come to Galway looking to extend their five-match winning run in the Pro14.

O'Brien and Eoin Griffin in Bloemfontein at the start of this month.
O'Brien and Eoin Griffin in Bloemfontein at the start of this month.
Image: Photosport/Frikkie Kapp/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Kieran Keane has been able to call on back row Eoin McKeon for the first time in four months for tomorrow’s Pro14 clash with Edinburgh at the Sportsground (kick-off 19.35, TG4).

The starting line-up shows six changes from the side who pushed the Cheetahs all the way, only to be pipped to a 26 – 25 defeat, in Bloemfontein three weeks ago.

Quinn Roux is free to play after not being involved in Ireland’s final two Six Nations fixtures, but Bundee Aki and Kieran Marmion will have to wait until the Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester to pull on provincial colours again.

McKeon’s return after hamstring and calf issues sees him start at blindside with Sean O’Brien moving to number eight in place of captain John Muldoon.

The front row and half-backs are unchanged as Connacht welcome an Edinburgh outfit who have won all five of their Pro14 matches this year. The impressive run of form since losing to Conference A runaway leaders Glasgow on 30 December includes victories over Leinster, Ulster and Munster and so they go to Galway hoping to complete the collection of Irish scalps.

“They turned (Munster) over several times at the breakdown and that’s uncharacteristic for Munster,” backs coach Nigel Carolan said this week.

“You can see that there’s a real bite to them, there’s a real high level of fitness and physicality. They’re a tough team to play against. They very direct and confrontational and they’re a tough team to break down. That’s where our biggest focus has been this week, particularly around the breakdown”

Meanwhile, Richard Cockerill has been able to welcome back Blair Kinghorn, a debutant against Ireland in the Six Nations, to the fullback role while John Hardie will operate behind a second row of Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist.

Connacht

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Tom Farrell
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Gavin Thornbury
5. Quinn Roux
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jarrad Butler
8. Sean O’Brien

Replacements

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Denis Coulson
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. James Cannon
20. Eoghan Masterson
21. James Mitchell
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Darragh Leader

Edinburgh

15. Blair Kinghorn
14. Dougie Fife
13. Mark Bennett
12. Chris Dean
11. Duhan van der Merwe
10. Jaco van der Walt
9. Nathan Fowles

1. Darryl Marfo
2. Neil Cochrane
3. Simon Berghan
4. Ben Toolis
5. Grant Gilchrist
6. Magnus Bradbury
7. John Hardie
8. Bill Mata

Replacements:

16. Cameron Fenton
17. Jordan Lay
18. WP Nel
19. Lewis Carmichael
20. Cornell du Preez
21 Sean Kennedy
22. Duncan Weir
23. Phil Burleigh

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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