Thursday 19 April 2018

O'Connor: Physicality is key to derby tie

Conor Oliver. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor Oliver. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster 'A' will put their British and Irish Cup title on the line against Leinster 'A' in what promises to be a mouthwatering derby at Donnybrook this afternoon (3.0).

Having both come through the pool stages to today's quarter-final with an identical record (won five, lost one), it was Leinster who finished top, with Munster coming through their pool as one of the best runners-up.

Conor Oliver will perhaps be disappointed that he wasn't considered for the Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon tomorrow, particularly because he was the only out-and-out openside available to Munster.

Dave O'Callaghan will also have to channel any frustration in the right way as Munster face a tough task at Energia Park against a Leinster side brimming with confidence.

There is plenty of firepower in Munster's back three with Stephen Fitzgerald, Calvin Nash and Ronan O'Mahony all having featured regularly for the senior side. Up front, fresh from his outstanding U-20s Six Nations campaign, Jack O'Sullivan is at No 8, with Sean O'Connor in the engine room.

"Leinster are a top-quality side, they've got plenty of PRO14 experience throughout the side," the lock said. "Leinster are great rivals and it will be a huge challenge. It's a step towards where we want to be again this year.

"Our main focus this week leading into the game is physicality and what we need to bring. We know we haven't performed in our last few outings up in Leinster," added O'Connor.

Leinster include the Byrne twins, Ed and Bryan, in the front-row, while their backline is littered with potential stars of the future, including last year's Ireland U-20s captain Jack Kelly and this year's, Tommy O'Brien.

Ciarán Frawley's battle with Bill Johnston is one of several fascinating match-ups. The two young, talented out-halves will look to pull the strings and whoever comes out on top will have a big say in who advances to the last four.

Verdict: Leinster 'A'

Leinster 'A' - J Kelly; T O'Brien, G Mullin, C O'Brien, B Daly; C Frawley, C Rock; E Byrne, B Byrne (capt), V Abdaladze; M Kearney, I Nagle; O Dowling, P Timmins, J Murphy. Reps: S McNulty, P Dooley, M Bent, R Foley, H O'Sullivan, H Byrne, S O'Brien.

Munster 'A' - S Fitzgerald; C Nash, D Johnston (capt), A McHenry, R O'Mahony; B Johnston, J Stafford; J Loughman, K O'Byrne, B Scott; S O'Connor, D O'Shea; D O'Callaghan, C Oliver, J O'Sullivan. Reps: M Sherry, C Parker, J Foley, J Daly, J Poland, A Tynan, J Power.

Irish Independent

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