Head coach Noel McNamara has named the Leinster Rugby ‘A’ team to face Jersey Reds in the semi-finals of the British & Irish Cup.
The sides meet at St. Peters this Saturday at 3pm. Leinster ‘A’ secured their qualification having topped Pool 2 with 26 points.
They were then drawn to face Munster ‘A’ in a quarter-final at Energia Park, with McNamara’s men winning out 17-6 in a hard-fought contest. Tries from Peadar Timmins and Jack Kelly, plus seven points from the boot of Ciarán Frawley, made sure of the win in some difficult conditions on Good Friday.
Speaking to Leinster Rugby TV about the win over Munster, McNamara said: “I think the most important thing that day was to get through to the semi-final this weekend. In terms of the performance, the quality of effort and character shown by the boys, particularly late in the game, was first class.
“It wasn’t a classic – the conditions were difficult – and it was obviously our first game in a while. But I think it was really pleasing to show how they applied themselves and how much it meant to them to get through to the semi-final.”
Bryan Byrne to captain Leinster A
Bryan Byrne will captain the ‘A’ team again after leading them to victory in the quarter-final against Munster. He will be joined in the front row by his brother, Ed, and Vakh Abdaladze. Mick Kearney and Ian Nagle are also retained in the second row.
The only change to the pack comes in the back row. Caelan Doris comes in at number 8 after a spell on the sidelines. Doris’ introduction sees Josh Murphy named in the number six jersey, while Peadar Timmins starts at openside flanker.
Two changes to side to face Jersey Reds
There are just two personnel changes to the Leinster ‘A’ back line from the quarter-final three weeks ago.
Cathal Marsh makes his return from a toe injury to start at 10 in a half-back partnership with Charlie Rock.
Marsh’s inclusion sees the versatile Ciaran Frawley move to full-back. Ireland U20 captain Tommy O’Brien is once again named on the left wing with Adam Byrne adding his senior experience to the back three from the right wing.
The centre pairing of Conor O’Brien and Gavin Mullin is also retained for the semi-final meeting in Jersey.
Tom Daly included on the bench
Tom Daly could make a return to action for the first time since Leinster’s pre-season game away to Perpignan back on 11th August if he is called on during Saturday’s game.
Daly picked up an ACL injury in the Perpignan match but has returned to fitness in time to play a part in the ‘A’ team’s B&I Cup campaign, and made an appearance from the bench for Lansdowne FC in their 26-17 win over Buccaneers at Aviva Stadium last weekend.
“The preparation has gone well this week,” McNamara told Leinster Rugby TV ahead of the semi-final.
“We know that Jersey are a good side. They’re going to be really well prepped and really up for it this weekend. We’re under no illusions as to the challenge that faces us.
“They were in the final last year against Munster and were unlucky not to come away with it. All you have to do is look at their results over the last few weeks; they went up to Bristol and were the only side that won at Ashton Gate this year in the Championship. That just reflects the quality of the side that they have.
“They’re capable of being very direct, very confrontational in their pack, but also they’ve got some real threats in their back three. It’s going to be a comprehensive test and we’re going to have to play very much at the peak of our powers if we want to get through to the final.”
Leinster Rugby ‘A’ side to face Jersey Reds
15. Ciarán Frawley
14. Adam Byrne
13. Gavin Mullin
12. Conor O’Brien
11. Tommy O’Brien
10. Cathal Marsh
9. Charlie Rock
1. Ed Byrne
2. Bryan Byrne CAPTAIN
3. Vakh Abdaladze
4. Mick Kearney
5. Ian Nagle
6. Josh Murphy
7. Peadar Timmins
8. Caelan Doris
16. Sean McNulty
17. Peter Dooley
18. Oisín Dowling
19. Will Connors
20. Hugh O’Sullivan
21. Tom Daly
22. Jack Kelly