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Munster stars of the future look to secure silver lining after Euro exit

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Luke O'Dea, Munster, goes over to score his side's first try. Celtic League, Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, Cork.

Luke O'Dea, Munster, goes over to score his side's first try. Celtic League, Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, Cork.

Luke O'Dea, Munster, goes over to score his side's first try. Celtic League, Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Musgrave Park, Cork.

MUNSTER fans would have been hoping for a trip to Lansdowne Road tomorrow, but the Heineken Cup semi-final defeat to Ulster means this evening's British and Irish Cup final at Musgrave Park is the extent of what they have to look forward to.

Had things gone to plan at Thomond Park on Easter Sunday, then this would have been the warm-up to the main attraction, but instead it is the lesser lights who take centre stage against Welsh side Cross Keys.

Coach Ian Costello is waiting to see if wing Luke O'Dea will be fit to start. If he's not, then Ronan O'Mahony looks likely to be drafted in. The hosts have a strong side, full of players who have tasted first-team action this season, with the likes of Danny Barnes, Duncan Williams, Stephen Archer and Ian Nagle all hoping to impress. Cross Keys, though, are in bullish mood.

"We are not going to Ireland to make up the numbers," insisted their captain Ross Nash.

"We'll give it everything and I am confident that we can win. We also finished above Munster in our group, so we go to Cork with confidence."

Intent

The visitors have named Dragons out-half Jason Tovey in their starting line-up in a clear statement of intent.

Cross Keys are mostly semi-professional, but Tovey has played 21 of the Newport-based Dragons' 27 games this season.

And Cross Keys will hope that the Cardiff Blues-bound pivot can bring added control to their game.

While the British and Irish Cup is a much maligned competition, the Welsh side are taking it very seriously and are believed to have been addressed by former international and Wales caretaker coach in the build-up.

Having beaten Leinster 'A' in an epic semi-final and Ulster in the quarters, Munster's young guns go in with plenty of confidence.

A number of the players were involved in the 2009-10 final defeat by the Cornish Pirates and the encouraging offshoot from that campaign was the progression of the likes of Simon Zebo, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony, who all played that day.

They will be hoping to catch the eye of the senior coaches, while some silverware would help boost the mood down south.

Verdict: Munster.

Munster -- S Scanlon; AN Other, D Barnes, I Dineen, D Hurley; S Deasy, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, S Henry, S Archer; B Hayes, I Nagle; B Holland capt, D O'Callaghan, P Butler. Reps: D Fogarty, J Ryan, B O'Mahony, B O'Hara, G Hurley, D Cusack, JJ Hanrahan.

Cross Keys -- G David; K Baller, L Andrews, P Williams, N Trowbridge; J Tovey, R Dyer; R Cornock, G Price, M Jones; D Hodge, T Lampard; R Peebles, R Nash capt, J Groves. Reps: L Eawlins, J Sollis, C Gould, C Traynern, M Popham, L Williams, O Jones.

Munster v Cross Keys, Live, Sky Sports 2, 5.30

Irish Independent