Dan Goggin earns start for Munster in clash with Connacht
Home side can still avoid the playoffs and secure a place directly in the semi-finals
Dan Goggin was named Munster Young Player of the Year this week. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Pro14: Munster v Connacht
Kick-off: 7.35pm, Saturday. Venue: Thomond Park. On TV: Live on Eir Sport and Premier Sports.
Fresh off being named Munster’s Young Player of the Year, Dan Goggin comes into the starting lineup for their decisive Pro14 clash with Connacht on Saturday.
Johann van Graan’s side know that a win is needed to have any chance of progressing straight to a home semi-final and that is also dependent on Glasgow losing to Edinburgh. If Glasgow were to draw then Munster could still secure that semi-final place with a bonus point win over Connacht but a win for the Scottish side would leave Munster facing a semi-final playoff.
Connacht are already tied to those semi-final playoffs themselves – where they will face Ulster next Saturday – no matter what the result on Saturday.
Goggin is one of four changes from the Munster team that lost to Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-final last weekend.
Calvin Nash, Stephen Archer and Chris Cloete all come into the side as well. Mike Haley starts at full-back with Andrew Conway and Nash on either flank.
Goggin partners up with Chris Farrell in the centres with the half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Tyler Bleyendaal unchanged.
Dave Kilcoyne and Niall Scannell pack down in the front row with Archer as locks Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne keep their places.
Player of the Year Peter O’Mahony captains from the back row with Cloete and No8 CJ Stander completing the starting lineup.
For Connacht there is a debut for academy outhalf Conor Dean. The 21-year-old will form a half back partnership with Irish international scrum half Kieran Marmion. The back line has further international experience with the midfield partnership of Bundee Aki and former Ireland Sevens Captain Tom Daly.
In the back three, Stephen Fitzgerald returns to Thomond Park to face his former team mates as he is named on the wing, with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing and the experienced Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.
Up front, there is good news for Connacht, as tighthead Finlay Bealham has returned from a hand injury to take his place alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Ballinrobe man Matthew Burke at loosehead.
In the second row, James Cannon starts alongside Joe Maksymiw, while in the back row Captain Jarrad Butler is named at openside, with Eoin McKeon at blindside and another former Munster man Robin Copeland at No8.
MUNSTER: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (c), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold.
CONNACHT: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald; Conor Dean, Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Tom McCartney; Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw; James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler (c), Robin Copleand.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Eoghan Masterson, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Darragh Leader.