British and Irish Cup
Mick O’Driscoll’s Munster A side bid to bring some badly needed cheer to the province with victory over Doncaster Knights in this afternoon’s British and Irish Cup quarter-final (Castle Park, 2pm).
And O’Driscoll is confident this group will prove the pool of talent bubbling under the surface down south.
“I think we have done remarkably well to get to the quarter-final based on all the injuries and all the issues we have had. Hopefully, if we are looking for positives from not qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup, some of these A boys could now get opportunities over the next few months that maybe they mightn’t have got if we’d been in a European quarter-final.”
O’Driscoll will again field a mixture of senior, academy and club talent in a side that includes veteran second-row Donncha O’Callaghan and the hugely experienced Sean Dougall in the back row, alongside Shane Buckley and Jack O’Donoghue. Garryowen clubman Neil Cronin, who made his Pro12 debut against Leinster in December, starts at scrum-half, with the backline comprising of up and coming Academy talent.
Munster A’s highest points scorer in the competition Rory Scannell continues at 10, while Gearóid Lyons and David Johnston take charge of the midfield, with Greg O’Shea, Darren Sweetnam and Stephen Fitzgerald making up the back three.
The mood in Munster has been mirrored in the Knights camp this week with the club in the grip of an eight-game losing run in their domestic championship.
Chief executive David Ryall was this week forced to refute claims coach Clive Griffiths’ job was under threat. “There’s no issue with Clive Griffiths. “The status quo has not changed. We are not where we would have liked to have been, ideally, but we’re only halfway through the season. There’s no panic. We don’t panic at this club.”
Ironically their form in the British and Irish Cup has been impressive — they secured 29 points from a possible 30 in the pool stages to make the last eight.
MUNSTER A: S Fitzgerald; D Sweetnam, D Johnston, G Lyons, G O’Shea; R Scannell, N Cronin; L O’Connor, N Scannell, G Sweeney; D O’Callaghan, L Nicholas; S Buckley, S Dougall, J O’Donoghue (captain).
Replacements: K O’Byrne, P McCabe, D Lavery, F Bradshaw Ryan, B Kilkenny, J Cullen, D Goggin.
DONCASTER KNIGHTS XV: P Jarvis, D Flockhart, A Bulumakau, B Armitage, T Lewis, P Francis, B Bravo, R List, B Hunter, R Davies, T Hotson, J Phelan, L Makaafi, M Hills, A Shaw.
Replacement: J Bergmanas, V Veikoso, M Challinor, W John, M Clark, P Roberts, J Maplesden.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved