McKenna back after long-term injury


Peter McKenna is set to end a six-week spell on the sidelines by returning to the St Mary's College team for Sunday's AIB All-Ireland League Division One clash with Clontarf at Templeville Road. The Leinster full back suffered a damaged ankle on January 29th while playing for the club against Ballymena, just six days before he was due to make his debut for Ireland A.

The initial prognosis was that he would be out of commission for two to three weeks but the damage proved more extensive than at first feared. However, his rehabilitation was confirmed when he played half a game against Carlow last weekend. He will replace Kelvin McNamee, who has deputised for St Mary's in the interim.

St Mary's coach Brent Pope has decided to further reshuffle the back line, dropping Fergal Campion and moving Mark McHugh to out-half. Ray McIlreavy also renews last season's centre partnership with Gareth Gannon.

There is a touch of irony to the alterations in that successive defeats by Lansdowne and Young Munster can hardly be attributed to the performance of the backs, who were given very little possession. Clontarf harbour no injury concerns and are expected to announce a team later today which should not deviate too much from the side that managed a superb win over Garryowen.

Leaders Young Munster, fresh from a fine win over St Mary's, will face Ballymena without international prop Peter Clohessy, whose aching limbs have been afforded some respite. Mick Fitzgerald is recovering from a finger operation and Munsters will await medical opinion before deciding on him. Pat O'Hanlon stands by.

New Zealander Matt te Pou is fit again having missed the St Mary's match, and he vies for a place with Brian Buckley, a very capable deputy. Ballymena have yet to confirm their starting line-up but Stanley McDowell and international wing James Topping may both be considered following long-term injuries.

Terenure College, who host Shannon, will be able to call upon international fullback Girvan Dempsey, who was ruled out of what was a remarkable 38-35 win against Dungannon with a broken nose. There are no injury concerns to report except for long-term absentee, flanker Dermot Blaney. David Coleman came through the Dungannon match showing no ill effects of a serious ankle problem.

Shannon expect to have Michael Galwey available and will wait until later in the week to assess the bumps and bruises of their representative players. As of now none are ruled out of Saturday's game.

Dungannon coach Willie Anderson awaits medical reports on wing Tyrone Howe prior to the match against Lansdowne at Stevenson Park. The Ireland A player suffered rib damage following the two-kneed attack by Italy's Walter Christofoletto.

Lansdowne make two changes to the side beaten by Cork Constitution. Ollie Ennis comes in at hooker for Cormac Egan, who damaged a hand the last day. Gabriel Fulcher returns to the second row after missing a succession of games. Colin McEntee reverts to his more favoured position of number eight with Aidan McCullen moving to blindside flanker: Stephen Rooney loses out.

Garryowen expect to have internationals Tom Tierney, Dominic Crotty and Keith Wood available when they host Buccaneers. Tierney limped off against Clontarf with a groin injury and subsequently missed the Ireland A match, as did Crotty with a viral infection. Wood did not play against Clontarf but is expected to face Buccaneers in spite of a sore ankle.

Buccaneers welcome back Gavin Webster and Steve McIvor but the good news is offset by the news that open-side flanker Eoin Brennan is likely to miss the rest of the season with a broken ankle, which he sustained in training.

DLSP move Kiwi full back Shane Stephens to centre with Eddie Devitt going to full back. Mark Kavanagh comes in at loose-head prop. Opponents, Cork Constitution expect to name Brian O'Meara at scrum-half after his long lay-off through injury. He successfully came through a 35-minute spell for Ireland A last weekend. Second row Donal Sheehan may also be available after injury. Conor Mahony is still out.