Quinlan staying with Munster as proposed Connacht move falls through
SPECULATION that Munster flanker Alan Quinlan had agreed a one-year deal with Connacht has been ruled out ahead of the sides' crucial Magners League clash at the Sportsground on Sunday.
Connacht sources confirmed last night that discussions had taken place with a view to Quinlan signing on as player-coach, but the move is not going ahead.
The 35-year-old Tipperary man has played 187 times for Munster since his debut in 1996 and is hoping to complete his lengthy career with his native province.
Given his strong performances for Tony McGahan's side this year, including last weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Northampton at Thomond Park, that appears the likely scenario.
Quinlan, who has 27 caps for Ireland, was a key member of Munster's Heineken Cup-winning squads in 2006 and 2008 and remains central to McGahan's plans as they chase a Heineken Cup-Magners League double over the next seven weeks.
Quinlan is not expected to be named this afternoon in McGahan's side to face Connacht as the coach looks to rest frontline players with one eye on the Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Biarritz in San Sebastien on May 2.
This could mean starts for the likes of Scott Deasy, Simon Zebo, Tom Gleeson, Danny Barnes and out-half Declan Cusack in a youthful backline, while Dave Ryan, Damien Varley and Billy Holland could get the nod up front. In the absence of Keith Earls and Jean de Villiers, full-back Paul Warwick could be switched to midfield.
Meanwhile, Connacht have announced that their postponed Magners League fixture with Leinster will be played next Wednesday at the Sportsground (7.45), meaning Michael Bradley's men must face Ireland's top two provinces in the space of three days.
MUNSTER (possible) -- S Deasy; S Zebo, T Gleeson, P Warwick, D Barnes; D Cusack, P Stringer; T Buckley, D Varley, D Ryan; B Holland, M O'Driscoll (capt); N Williams, N Ronan, J Coughlan.