Determined McGahan resists temptation to tinker

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan clearly sees stability as the key to Magners League success this season.

As the province undertakes a potentially troublesome trip to Edinburgh tonight, McGahan has decided to keep some of his big names in reserve and reward others for what Munster fans believe has been steady progress in the last three weeks.

Consequently, McGahan has made just one change in personnel from the team that started the successful opening league game against Aironi. Alan Quinlan comes into the back row and McGahan has pushed Donnacha Ryan up to the engine room to replace Billy Holland who will, in any event, line out for Munster A against Leinster A in Dublin on Sunday.

McGahan, of course, did have to take into account the fact that senior players such as Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary and Donncha O’Callaghan are restricted as to their involvement with the province this season. However, all five plus Denis Fogarty are included on a hugely experienced replacements list, along with promising youngsters Peter O’Mahony and Danny Barnes.

McGahan is well aware that Munster scarcely did themselves proud outside of Cork or Limerick last season.

“Our form away from home last season was poor, no question about that,” McGahan readily accepted. “As this competition has evolved it’s become harder and harder to win away from home. Last year, I think the best away form was that of Ospreys who won three, two of those coming at the back-end against ourselves and Ulster.

“Leinster won twice on the road like us, and even now when you look at sides who don’t finish near the top you’re going to realise they are still very difficult to turn over in their own ground.

“One of our big things this year is addressing our form on the road. If you want to do really well in this competition you need to do that.

“The focus has to be strong; and you have to take into account that things aren’t going to go your way away from home – that’s the reality of it.”

Munster haven’t won in the Magners League outside Ireland since the trip to the Scarlets this time last year although their record, overall, is very good against Edinburgh, with six wins out of the last seven.

But a continuation of that form won’t be easy as Edinburgh coach Rob Moffatt is determined to take no prisoners with the announcement of a very strong team. Argentinean Esteban Lozada will make his debut, and he plays alongside Scott MacLeod.

Meanwhile, Denis Hurley will be amongst a host of experienced players on view when Munster take on Leinster in the opening A interprovincial game of the season at Donnybrook on Sunday (2.30pm).

Coach Anthony Foley is able to call upon a number of experienced players, the likes of Darragh Hurley, Billy Holland, Tommy O’Donnell and James Coughlan.

Elsewhere, Munster’s young stars will be in action at the Mardyke to-night when they take on Connacht in an U20 interprovincial (7pm).

EDINBURGH: C Paterson (capt), M Robertson, B Cairns, A Grove, T Visser, P Godman, M Blair, A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, E Lozada, S MacLeod, S Newlands, N Taiei, R Rennie.

Replacements: A Kelly, K Traynor, J Gilding, F McKenzie, S McInally, G Laidlaw, D Blair, J Houston.

MUNSTER: F Jones; D Howlett, J Murphy, S Tuitupou, I Dowling; P Warwick, P Stringer; W du Preez, D Varley, T Buckley; D Ryan, M O’Driscoll; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Leamy (capt).

Replacements: D Fogarty, M Horan, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, T O’Leary, R O’Gara, D Barnes.

MUNSTER A (vs Leinster A): S Scanlon; D Hurley, I Dineen, T Smith, S Zebo; S Deasy, D Williams; D Hurley, S Henry, S Archer; D Foley (capt), I Nagle; B Holland, T O'Donnell, J Coughlan.

Replacements: G Burke, D Kilcoyne, A Cotter, D O'Callaghan, P Butler, C Murray, E Maloney, R O'Mahony.

MUNSTER U20 (vs Connacht U20): G Quinn-McDonagh; L Kuntz, C Hircock, JJ Hanrahan, C Quinn; J Holland, R Barry; P Mullen, N Scannell, J Randles; C O’Flaherty, D O’Mahony; S Buckley (capt), S Hanbidge, L Cahill.

Replacements: K O’Byrne, J Considine, T Goggin, R O’Herlihy, E O’Shaughnessy, D Horgan, J Costigan, O Dennehy.

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