Devin Toner set to make Leinster history against Ospreys
Munster and Ulster have both named youthful lineups for Friday’s Pro14 matches
Devin Toner will join Gordon D’Arcy as Leinster’s most-capped player on Friday. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Devin Toner joins Gordon D’Arcy as the most capped Leinster player of all-time (261 appearances) when he takes the pitch for Friday’s Guinness Pro14 game against the Ospreys (8.15, live Eir Sport 1). The 34-year-old made his debut for the province against the Border Reivers in January 2006, some 15 years ago and reaches the milestone having also won 70 caps for Ireland.
It will be a proud moment for the Toner family, albeit that it is a real pity that they cannot be there to celebrate the achievement. Out of contract at the end of the season, Toner would like to remain with Leinster but if that’s not possible expressed a desire to continue to play somewhere.
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen shuffles his resources. Last week’s man of the match Rory O’Loughlin switches from centre to wing, Ciarán Frawley and Jamie Osborne form a new midfield partnership, Rowan Osborne comes in at scrumhalf, Sean Cronin is back after injury while it is Josh Murphy’s turn to play number eight. Scott Fardy will captain the team.
Johann van Graan has given a selection of younger players an opportunity for his team’s Pro14 game against Benetton at Thomond Park (6.0, live on Eir Sport 1). There is a senior debut for Garryowen secondrow Cian Hurley while hooker Diarmuid Barron, fullback Jake Flannery and scrumhalf Paddy Patterson, on loan from Leinster, will all make their respective first starts for the senior team.
The 20-year-old Hurley is from Clonakilty, the latest example of the deep reservoir of talent emerging in west Cork, and a member of the National Talent squad. He is alongside former Ireland Under-20 international Thomas Ahern in the secondrow, a player with a bright future. Matt Gallagher is included among the replacements having recovered from an injury he sustained last November.
Ulster coach Dan McFarland has announced a young and exciting backline for their game against Zebre at the Kingspan stadium (8.15, live on Eir Sport 2). There is plenty of pace and football ability in a three quarter line that includes Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore and Rob Lyttle with Ethan McIlroy shifting to fullback.
The halfback pairing of John Cooney and Michael Lowry should be capable of unleashing an exciting crop of young players. Up front, the 21-year-old Tullamore native and member of the Ireland Sevens programme Cormac Izuchukwu gets his first start for the province; he’s another talented prospect.
There is nothing at stake in any of the three matches other than, in the case of a handful of Munster and Leinster players, giving them game time ahead of Saturday week’s Pro14 final at the RDS.
Meanwhile Connacht flanker Jarrad Butler received a three game suspension following his red card against Edinburgh last weekend.
Leinster: M O’Reilly; R O’Loughlin, J Osborne, C Frawley, D Kearney; H Byrne, R Osborne; P Dooley, S Cronin, M Bent; R Molony, D Toner; S Fardy (capt), S Penny, J Murphy. Replacements: D Sheehan, M Hanan, T Clarkson, J Dunne, S O’Brien, H O’Sullivan, T Corkery, A Smith.
Ulster: E McIlroy; R Baloucoune, J Hume, S Moore, R Lyttle; M Lowry, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; C Izuchukwu, K Treadwell; S Reidy, J Murphy, D McCann. Replacements: B Roberts, C Reid, T O’Toole, A O’Connor, Matty Rea, D Shanahan, I Madigan, B Moxham.
Munster: J Flannery; A Conway, A McHenry, R Scannell, L Coombes; JJ Hanrahan, P Patterson; L O’Connor, D Barron, K Knox; C Hurley, T Ahern; J O’Donoghue (capt), C Cloete, J O’Sullivan. Replacements: R Marshall, J Loughman, R Salanoa, J Daly, T O’Donnell, N McCarthy, B Healy, M Gallagher.