Tomas O'Leary finally back in a Munster shirt

Tomas O’Leary returns to the Munster side for the first time since the game against London Irish in January, for tomorrow nights clash with Connacht at Thomond Park Stadium (7.05) while Alan Quinlan is also included in the starting XV.

O’Leary will partner Ronan O’Gara who is just one of four players retained in the starting Xv from last weekend, the others being full back Felix Jones, wing Doug Howlett and Denis Leamy who this time around starts at number 8.

Danny Barnes will partner Johne Murphy in the centre while Simon Zebo takes over from Keith Earls on the wing. O’Gara, who will win his 206th Munster cap tomorrow was honoured at a Civic Reception in Cork City Hall last night to mark his contribution to a sport he was illuminated since first making his Munster senior debut back in August 1997.

Togging out with him on Friday will be his colleague through all those years, Alan Quinlan who wins his 211th Munster cap. O’Gara was his usual fortright self at the media briefing in UL on Tuesday when he said his side’s performance (against Harlequins) was ‘unacceptable’.

“It was disappointing to play like that especially in front of our own supporters who turned up in huge number. We pride oursleves on giving them value for their loyalty and last weekend we failed. Simple as that. We have to hold our hands up, take responsibility. And we will. All we can do now is try and regain some of the ground we’ve lost when we get the opportunity and that opportunity presents itself on Friday.”

Munster starting XV:
F Jones
D Howlett
J Murphy
D Barnes
S Zebo
R O’Gara
T O’Leary
M Horan
M Sherry
J Hayes
D Ryan
P O’Connell capt
A Quinlan
N Ronan
D Leamy

D Varley
W du Preez
S Archer
I Nagle
T O’Donnell
P Stringer
P Warwick
D Hurley