Leinster keep big guns in reserve

INTERNATIONAL trio Malcolm O’Kelly, Shane Horgan and Denis Hickie will be sprung from the bench if things go wrong for Leinster against Glasgow in the Celtic Cup quarter-final at Lansdowne Road tonight (7.30).

Acting coach Gerry Murphy has retained the side that started against Glasgow in the last of the Celtic League games a fortnight ago.

Ben Gissing, Gary Brown and Kieran Lewis keep their places but if things go wrong, Murphy has a top-class bench available. Apart from O’Kelly, Horgan and Hickie, Emmet Byrne, David Blaney, Shane Jennings and Brian O’Riordan were all named in the squad yesterday.

Without Felipe Contepomi, Leinster have only one recognised goalkicker in Dave Holwell. Girvan Dempsey is likely to be his back-up should anything go wrong on the night.

Glasgow’s Gordon Bullock, the Scotland captain, will miss the game, however.

The 75-cap hooker has a leg injury, though it’s not serious.

“Gordon injured a leg in training last week,” explained coach Hugh Campbell. “It has not responded to treatment in time, and he can’t be considered for the Dublin match.”

However, it is expected Bullock will be available next weekend if Glasgow beat Leinster tomorrow and qualify for a home semi-final against Edinburgh or Munster.

“We expect him to be fully fit in a few days,” the coach added.

Whether or not Glasgow’s interest in the cup continues, Bullock has a busy summer ahead. Scotland have matches against the Barbarians (in Aberdeen on May 24) and Romania (in Bucharest on June 5) before he travels with the Lions to New Zealand.

Scott Lawson steps in to replace Bullock tonight. That is the only change among the forwards who started when Glasgow lost to the same opponents at Hughenden in the final round of Celtic League matches two weeks ago.

Fergus Thomson has been called in on the bench as back-up hooker.

Two changes have been made among the backs, with Scott Barrow and Graeme Beveridge returning at inside centre and scrum half respectively. However, no change in personnel has been made among the 10 backs who were on duty for the league match against Leinster earlier this month. The recalls for Barrow and Beveridge are just reshuffling.

To accommodate Barrow’s promotion from the replacements, Andrew Henderson switches to outside centre. His Scotland team-mate, Andy Craig, drops to the bench, and Beveridge steps up in a straight swap with Sam Pinder.

Andrew Wilson, like Thomson, returns to the squad among the replacements. The flanker missed the league match against Leinster because of a family wedding.

GLASGOW: C Howarth; R Lamont, A Henderson, S Barrow, S Lamont; D Parks, G Beveridge; K Tkachuk, S Lawson, E Murray; J Beardshaw, D Turner; S Swindall, P Dearlove, J Petrie (captain). Replacements: F Thomson, B Prescott, A Hall, A Wilson, S Pinder, K Logan, A Craig.

LEINSTER: G. Dempsey; G. Brown, B. O’Driscoll, G. D’Arcy, K. Lewis; D. Holwell, G. Easterby; R. Corrigan (captain), S. Byrne, R. Nebbett; B. Gissing, L. Cullen; D. Dillon, V. Costello, K. Gleeson. Replacements. E. Byrne, D. Blaney, M. O’Kelly, S. Jennings, B. O’riordan, S. Horgan, D. Hickie.

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