O'Gara left on Munster bench


Rugby:Tony McGahan has opted to keep Ronan O’Gara on the bench for the Pro 12 semi-final meeting with Ospreys at Liberty Stadium. The outhalf has not played since sustaining a dead leg in the Heineken Cup quarter-final but even the long-term absence of captain Paul O’Connell hasn’t forced McGahan to call on his experience.

Instead, Ian Keatley returns in place of Sott Deasy to partner Conor Murray at halfback, while Keith Earls, fit again, is named at 13 ahead of Ivan Dineen.

O’Connell’s place is taken by Donncha O'Callaghan in an otherwise unchanged pack.

Newly crowned IRUPA Young Player of the Year Peter O'Mahony will captain the side, while, on the bench, Dave Kilcoyne in preferred to Marcus Horan for the number 17 shirt.

Ireland wing Tommy Bowe is suffering from a haematoma and will not feature for Ospreys, who are also without Huw Bennett, Will Price, Cai Griffiths, Ben John, Gareth Owen and Nikki Walker.

“Munster will be coming to the Liberty with a winning mentality as they always do, wherever they play, whoever the opposition and whatever the game," said Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy today. "They’re a tough bunch, steely edged, with the know-how and experience to win tight games and they won’t be contemplating losing. You can guarantee that much.

“For us, it’s a great game to host at the Liberty after having to go away to Munster at this stage last season and we’re really looking forward to the challenge. The team have worked hard to get us into the position over the last couple of months and they’ve been rewarded with a home semi, but now they have to start all over again. It’s a one off game and results in the run-up don’t matter now, it’s all about who comes out on top on Friday night.

“It’s going to be a tough old battle between two teams who know each other very well, two teams who will have to slug it out to get control out there, but it should be a tight, edgy affair as games between the Ospreys and Munster always are. We’ll have our home support behind us and they’ll have an important part to play as well, as we’ll need to make full use of every advantage we can get.”

Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, A Bishop, A Beck, S Williams; D Biggar, K Fotuali’i; P James, R Hibbard, A Jones; A Wyn Jones (capt), I Evans; R Jones, J Tipuric, J Bearman. Replacements: S Baldwin, R Bevington, A Jarvis, J King, T Smith, R Webb, M Morgan, T Isaacs

Munster:F Jones; J Murphy, K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo; I Keatley, C Murray; W du Preez, M Sherry, BJ Botha; D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll; D Ryan, T O'Donnell, P O'Mahony capt. Replacements: D Fogarty, D Kilcoyne, S Archer, Dave O'Callaghan, P Butler, T O'Leary, R O'Gara, I Dineen