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Ravens quality can prove key

PADDY McALLISTER and Ian Nagle might be looking forward to training with the Irish squad in the next month or so, but the less glamorous side of their lives as rising stars takes precedence this weekend.

Tonight, at Ravenhill (7.30), they will lock horns in the British and Irish Cup quarter-final far away from the limelight of the weekend's action. Ulster's eyes will be fixed on events in Clermont; Munster's on Milton Keynes -- but for the next generation, this is their main event.

And for the likes of Dave Kearney, Peter O'Mahony and Craig Gilroy, who have made the breakthrough in the last year or so, this is an important stepping stone.

Both sides look strong, with departing Australian centre Will Chambers lining out for the visitors ahead of his move to Melbourne. Munster 'A' look strong up front, with newly signed prop Christy Condon aiming to impress and Nagle, captain Billy Holland and Paddy Butler all capable of taking the game to Ulster.

The Ravens have plenty of quality in their backline and Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall and Chris Cochrane are all highly rated, but coach Gary Longwell will look to take the battle to Munster up front.

Verdict: Home win

ULSTER RAVENS -- C Gaston; M Allen, C Farrell, L Marshall, C Cochrane; P Jackson, B McIlroy; M McComish, A Birch, C Joyce, N McComb, T Barker, J Cronin, N Brady (capt), P McAllister. Reps: N Annett, C Carey, R Lutton, J Simpson, I Henderson, I Porter, J McKinney.

MUNSTER 'A' -- S Scanlon; L O'Dea, W Chambers, JJ Hanrahan, R O'Mahony; S Deasy, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, S Henry, C Condon, D Foley, I Nagle, B Holland (capt), B O'Hara, P Butler. Reps: M Sherry, J Ryan, B Hayes, S Buckley, C Sheridan, D Cusack, I Dineen.

Irish Independent