McGahan out to end Blues in Wales

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan bids to end a run of five defeats on Welsh soil when his side face Cardiff Blues in the Magners League at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night (TG4, 7.05pm).

The game will be the first in a crucial run of league fixtures for the province, with Leinster coming to Thomond Park (April 2) before trips to face Scarlets (April 16) and Ospreys (April 23) precede the visit of Connacht (May 6) in the final league match. There is also the matter of an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final trip to Brive on April 9 to plan for.

McGahan welcomes back his full international contingent with the exception of Tomás O’Leary, who sustained a serious eye injury in a freak training action in the build up to the England game.

O’Leary is to meet with a specialist later this week to discover if he will be fit to return for the European last-eight clash next month, with indications that the injury is not as bad as first feared.

Long term injuries continue to sideline Barry Murphy, Jerry Flannery and Ian Dowling while Tom Gleeson (hernia) and Denis Hurley (ankle) are also on the treatment table. However, Felix Jones, Niall Ronan and Peter O’Mahony all came through last week’s A win over Ulster and are in contention for the trip to the Welsh capital.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues will be without injured Wales flanker Sam Warburton for the game.

Warburton limped off in the first half of Wales’ 28-9 defeat to France in the Stade de France at the weekend. The Blues will be without three more injured stars — wing Tom James, hooker Rhys Thomas and prop Taufa’ao Felise, though Martyn Williams should figure after signing a one-year deal this week.

The last six clashes between the two sides have all been won by the home side, while Munster’s only previous win on Cardiff soil in the Magners League was in an 18-16 success at the Arms Park back in November 2005.

Meanwhile, Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin revealed that Stephen Ferris and BJ Botha are set for a return from injury — but not in Friday night’s Magners League clash with Glasgow at Firhill.

McLaughlin is hoping to have the pair back for the game with the Scarlets next week, although Ireland flanker Ferris may be held back until the province’s Heineken Cup quarter-final in April.

“BJ is back training with us again, and hopefully he will be available the following week if he gets the all clear from the medical people,” said McLaughlin. “Stephen is running again and we will wait and see how he comes through, but hopefully he will be available for the game against Northampton at least. He is making good progress,

McLaughlin has made his side aware of the challenge that awaits them in Glasgow. He said: “There are no weak teams in the Magners League and Glasgow will present us with a lot of problems, particularly a large slice of the Scotland representatives back in action.

“We have done well to get where we are at present and we intend to stay there. We had a scare against the Dragons, but the team showed that they have a great will to win.

“We have been emphasing the positives all week and will be taking that into Friday’s game.”

ULSTER squad: Forwards: J Cronin, D Fitzpatrick, T Court, A Macklin, P McAllister, B Young, R Best, N Brady, A Kyriacou, R Caldwell, N McComb, D Tuohy, J Muller, T Barker, P Wannenburg, TJ Anderson, W Faloon, C Henry, R Diack. Backs: R Pienaar, P Marshall, P Jackson, N O’Connor, I Whitten, N Spence, P Wallace, D Cave, M McCrea, A Trimble, S Danielli, T Seymour, C Gilroy, C Gaston, D McIlwaine, J Smith, A D’Arcy.

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CourtsRugbyPlace: WalesPlace: WelshPlace: Cardiff City StadiumPlace: Thomond ParkPlace: ConnachtPlace: BrivePlace: EnglandPlace: Stade de FrancePlace: Arms ParkPlace: FirhillPlace: GlasgowPerson: McGahanPerson: Tony McGahanPerson: Tomás O’LearyPerson: O’LearyPerson: Barry MurphyPerson: Jerry FlanneryPerson: Ian DowlingPerson: Tom GleesonPerson: Denis HurleyPerson: Felix JonesPerson: Niall RonanPerson: Peter O’MahonyPerson: Sam WarburtonPerson: WarburtonPerson: Tom JamesPerson: Rhys ThomasPerson: Martyn WilliamsPerson: Brian McLaughlinPerson: Stephen FerrisPerson: BJPerson: McLaughlinPerson: FerrisPerson: StephenPerson: J CroninPerson: D FitzpatrickPerson: T CourtPerson: A MacklinPerson: P McAllisterPerson: B YoungPerson: R BestPerson: N BradyPerson: A KyriacouPerson: R CaldwellPerson: N McCombPerson: D TuohyPerson: J MullerPerson: T BarkerPerson: P WannenburgPerson: TJ AndersonPerson: W FaloonPerson: C HenryPerson: R DiackPerson: R PienaarPerson: P MarshallPerson: P JacksonPerson: N O’ConnorPerson: I WhittenPerson: N SpencePerson: P WallacePerson: D CavePerson: M McCreaPerson: A TrimblePerson: S DanielliPerson: T SeymourPerson: C GilroyPerson: C GastonPerson: D McIlwainePerson: J SmithPerson: A D’ArcyEvent: Amlin Challenge CupEvent: LeagueEvent: Magners LeagueEvent: Heineken CupOrganisation: BluesOrganisation: Cardiff BluesOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: ScarletsOrganisation: OspreysOrganisation: UlsterOrganisation: WalesOrganisation: Wales’Organisation: FranceOrganisation: MunsterOrganisation: GlasgowOrganisation: NorthamptonOrganisation: Magners LeagueOrganisation: Dragons
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