Sunday 26 May 2019

Leinster have firepower to spoil Connacht captain's farewell

Connacht rugby's head coach Kieran Keane. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Connacht rugby's head coach Kieran Keane. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

No sports movie ever ends with a dead-rubber, but while he could do a lot of things John Muldoon never quite managed to write his own scripts.

So the Connacht captain bids farewell to a stellar career in green hoping for one last win over Leinster.

The retiring captain has known plenty of difficult seasons during his long service to his home province but the gloom most often lifted when the men in blue made their way west to be sent back over the Shannon with their tails between their legs.

Giving him a proper send-off should be motivation enough for a team who will want a dreadful first campaign under Kieran Keane (right) to come to a swift end once the skipper has done his lap of honour.

Can they deliver the right result?

Well, Leinster have an eye on Bilbao and have an entirely new starting XV from the one that beat Scarlets in such style last week. Connacht are at full strength for their last game and have all the motivation in the world.

With eight internationals in the starting side and Ultan Dillane on the bench they won't have any fear of their illustrious visitors and have raw memories of coming up just short at the RDS earlier in the season.

Already top of Conference B, the Blues could be forgiven for taking their eye off the ball as they did against Benetton but this is a far stronger match-day squad than the one that succumbed to the Italians.

With final places to play for, there is little room for error and their bench is packed with power and pace.

Coming into the game on a run of five defeats since their last win in February, Connacht need to find a performance.

Emotion can only get them so far and given their high recent performance levels and numerous game-breakers, Leinster have what it takes to spoil the retirement party.

Verdict: Leinster

CONNACHT - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, T Farrell, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt, F Bealham; G Thornbury, Q Roux; E McKeon, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt). Reps: T McCartney, P McCabe, C Carey, U Dillane, E Masterson, C Blade, C Ronaldson, D Leader.

LEINSTER - J Carbery; B Daly, T Daly, N Reid, J Lowe; R Byrne, N McCarthy; J McGrath (capt), J Tracy, A Porter; R Molony, M Kearney; M Deegan, P Timmins, J Conan. Reps: S Cronin, C Healy, M Bent, D Toner, Jordi Murphy, J Gibson-Park, J Larmour, A Byrne.

Ref - A Brace (IRFU)

  • Connacht v Leinster, 3.05; TG4

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