Thursday 14 December 2017

Half cameo for 'big mal'

Malcolm O'Kelly returned to competitive rugby over the weekend when the 92-times capped Ireland and Lions second-row lined out for Leinster in the British and Irish Cup against Bedford at Goldington Road on Saturday, writes Hugh Farrelly.

Unfortunately, the 36-year-old was unable to prevent his province exiting the competition as their understrength side were easily beaten on a 50-15 scoreline and O'Kelly's appearance was on an emergency basis and not part of a comeback plan.

"Ed O'Donoghue was ruled out on the morning of the game, so Malcolm stepped in to the second- row. We were lucky he was available," explained a Leinster spokesman.

"Malcolm is manager of the side so he knew the procedures and the calls. Fortunately, unlike some of our other former players, Malcolm did not retire due to injury and he has kept in good nick. He played the first half for us until Jordi Murphy came on and Eoin Sherriff switched to the second-row and Malcolm did very well."

Bedford, who featured former Leinster player Brendan Burke in the centre, benefitted from a four-try haul from winger Handre Schmidt, while Canadian international James Pritchard was on hand to kick 20 points.

Leinster's points came courtesy of two tries from Old Belvedere No 8 Leo Auva'a, with Ian Madigan kicking a penalty and one conversion.

LEINSTER -- I Madigan; D Hudson (Colin O'Shea 73), D Riordan, E Sheridan (Noel Reid 69), M Keating; I McKinley, P O'Donohoe (capt, J Cooney, 47), J McGrath, A Dundon (T Sexton 62), S Shawe (S Maguire 54); M O'Kelly (J Murphy h-t), C Ruddock; E Sheriff, P Ryan (M Kearney 73), L Auva'a.

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