Girvan Dempsey: Sean O’Brien and Marty Moore close to return
Lam likely to be without Buckley for rest of season after prop fractures ankle
Leinster prop Marty Moore is close to a return from injury. Photograph: Inpho
Dempsey’s side could have four final games if they can make it to the Pro12 final, with the former Irish fullback hoping that Irish flanker Seán O’Brien and prop Marty Moore can put up their hands up for selection over the coming days.
Ulster are more desperate for a win but both teams need the points to secure home semi-finals, with Ulster eight points behind the Dublin-based side.
“Seán O’Brien is very close,” said Dempsey. “He is starting his running and back in the fold. We will monitor him through the week and how he manages the workload.”
O’Brien suffered a hamstring injury, when playing against France in this year’s Six Nations and hasn’t played a competitive game since February.
But Dempsey feels that he could be included in this week’s squad that faces Ulster in what is becoming a tight top-of-the-table finish.
“We’ll see how he comes through in training, but hopefully,” said Dempsey. “If he gets through that and the physios are happy with him getting through the workload, then yeah.”
Moore had a run out with Lansdowne last weekend and returned to camp eager to see some competitive time with Leinster before he joins up with Wasps for next season.
Moore, along with Ian Madigan and Ben Te’o, are the three high-profile players leaving from the province.
“We’re pretty much in a good place come the end of the season. Peter Dooley had a slight hamstring strain, so he’s back in the fold,” said Dempsey. “He did full running. Marty Moore got some game time for Lansdowne, so he is fully fit. Johnny Sexton has come through.
“He just had a few bangs and bruises the last day so he wasn’t available for selection. He’s back fully fit. We have a selection headache, which is always nice to have.”
Pat Lam will be without two influential players for Connacht’s Friday evening meeting with Treviso, with both Denis Buckley and Bundee Aki sidelined through injury.
Buckley suffered an ankle fracture in training and is ruled out for a “number of weeks”, according to Lam.
But he is hopeful the inspirational Aki will have recovered from the knee injury he sustained in Connacht’s win over Munster to face Glasgow in their final match in Galway.
“It is a big loss for us. Losing Nathan White and Denis has an impact on our frontrowers,” said Lam.
“It wasn’t even a contact drill – one of the players fell down going for the ball and Denis’s leg was in the wrong place. He has always been miraculous with his recovery, but we have to be prepared that he is finished for the season, but you never know. It’s just unfortunate, but we have to move on.”
Donnacha Ryan has been ruled out of contention for Munster’s game against Edinburgh on Friday as he continues to undergo extended return to play protocols for the concussion he sustained against Connacht.
Against that, Duncan Casey, who has been sidelined since November, is available for selection again after recovering from his pectoral tear. Dave O’Callaghan (knee bruising), Dave Foley (ankle) and Shane Buckley (hip pointer) have also returned to full training this week.
Mario Sagario has been sidelined after sustaining an ankle injury during training, while BJ Botha (knee), Mark Chisholm (concussion), Tyler Bleyendaal (quad), Denis Hurley (calf), Kevin O’Byrne (knee) and Peter O’Mahony (ACL) all continue to follow their respective rehabilitation programmes.
Munster have also confirmed that Jordan Coghlan will leave the province at the end of the season to join Nottingham Rugby.