PAUL O’Connell returns to action tomorrow, Tuesday, for the first time since October in Munster A’s interprovoncial clash with Leinster at the UL Bowl at 2pm.
O’Connell has been selected to start in the second-row, alongside Dave Foley, of UL-Bohemian. Thirty three-year-old O’Connell has recovered fully from surgery to rectify a bulging disc in his back on New Year’s Eve. O’Connell predicted in early January that it would take him between 12 and 16 weeks to return to playing. However, the former Lions skipper is back playing ahead of that schedule.
With the Munster players had a week off last week due to the break in the RaboDirect PRO12 schedule, O’Connell trained with his club side, Young Munster.
Should O’Connell come through tomorrow’s A game, he is likely to feature for Munster in the crucial PRO12 fixture against Connacht at Musgrave Park on Saturday, March 23. News of O’Connell’s return is a massive boost to Munster with the marquee Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Harlequins at the Stoop just over three weeks away.
O’Connell’s involvement with Munster this season has been limited to just two appearances in the Heineken Cup in October, against Racing Metro and Edinburgh. Prior to those two appearances, O’Connell had been sidelined for five months with a serious knee injury.
The Munster A side which takes on Leinster also includes flanker Niall Ronan, who has been out of Munster action with injury since late November and Luke O’Dea whose last Munster game at senior level was just before Christmas. Both players have featured for their club Shannon in the AIL in recent weeks, however,
MUNSTER A: Johne Murphy; Luke O’Dea, Danny Barnes, Ivan Dineen, Ronan O’Mahony; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; James Cronin, Sean Henry, John Ryan; Dave Foley, Paul O’Connell; Niall Ronan, Sean Dougall, CJ Stander. Replacements: Marcus Horan, Duncan Casey, Niall Scannell, Kevin Griffin, Brian Hayes, Dave O’Callaghan, Brian Slater, Scott Deasy, Cian Bohane, Corey Hircock, Sean Scanlon, Johnny Holland.