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Munster’s Heineken Cup strength should provide win

NO doubt Munster were busy this week analysing Connacht’s shock defeat of Leinster. Three of their former contracted players, Conor Oliver, Alex Wooton and Sammy Arnold were part of that win and they will be hoping to guide Connacht to another important victory in the Showgrounds to-night, kick-off 7.25pm and aired live on TG4, eir Sport 1 and Premier Sports 1. Johaan van Grann has named a side of European quality with most of the big names, O’Mahony, Murray, Earls, Farrell, de Allende, Beirne and Stander all taken out of pasture. Despite the pound for pound difference between the selections, Connacht head coach Andy Friend was steeped in positivity when he was asked to assess his side’s chances: “Last week’s win was a testament to the belief and determination that was still present in our squad despite a challenging few weeks. Now it’s all about backing that up and finding another win that will bring us right into contention for a Guinness PRO14 final spot. We’ve had a very positive week with no COVID cases and a few players available to us again, but we will still have to be at our best to overcome a Munster side that is full of quality.”

Leinster had to dig deep to get their bonus point win over Ulster last night and if Connacht can repeat last week-end’s performance they may also make Munster sweat for some stages of tonight’s game. On paper Munster must be favourites, any other result would be a major surprise.

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; JJ Hanrahan, Conor Murray; James Cronin, Kevin O’Byrne, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Gavin Coombes, Peter O’Mahony (c), CJ Stander. Replacements: Niall Scannell, Josh Wycherley, Keynan Knox, Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland, Nick McCarthy, Ben Healy, Rory Scannell.

Connacht: John Porch, Ben O’Donnell, Sammy Arnold, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux (CAPT), Sean O’Brien, Conor Oliver, Sean Masterson. Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Kieran Marmion, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Peter Sullivan.

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