herald

Friday 17 November 2017

Doris and Kelleher among six Academy starters for Cullen

Leinster v Bath, Donnybrook 7.30

Caelan Doris will start against Bath this evening. Pic:Sportsfile
Caelan Doris will start against Bath this evening. Pic:Sportsfile

Coach Leo Cullen hands 19-year-olds Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher their first Leinster senior shirts in the last pre-season match against Bath at Donnybrook this evening.

More impressively, these two men are forwards which says a lot about their physical development as well as their skill base.

Apparently, Jimmy O'Brien has been burning up the track with his speed.

The former out-half has recovered from illness and his transition to outside centre is a point of interest.

For the ex-Newbridge College certainly has the distribution to play into the wide channels.

Another Academy man, Conor O'Brien, will get a shot at impressing in a position in which Leinster are light in options at the moment, which is inside centre.

There are six Academy players on the starting blocks with Jordan Larmour - he was impressive in taking two tries against Gloucester - at full-back and Will Connors on the openside.

This week, Ireland internationals Joey Carbery, Seán Cronin, James Ryan and Andrew Porter are scheduled for their seasonal bows from the bench.

Last week, Ireland internationals Jordi Murphy, Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden all came through the emphatic victory over Gloucester unscathed after long-term injuries.

Sadly, Peter Dooley (bicep), Bryan Byrne (twisted knee) and Josh Murphy (hairline fracture) and Oisín Dowling (concussion) are all out for between two and four weeks.

Freddie Burns will make his debut for Bath as the playmaker for the more experienced English club.

British & Irish Lion Taulupe Faletau and England's Semesa Rokoduguni are their stand-out men with Matt Garvey leading from the blindside of a solid back row.

This is exactly the kind of challenge Doris, Connors and 2016 U20 World Player of the Year Max Deegan will relish.

It should give them some measure of how far they have to go to be in with a shout of the first round of the PRO14 away to the Dragons next week.

Leinster: J Larmour; F McFadden, J O'Brien, C O'Brien, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; E Byrne, R Kelleher, M Bent, R Molony (capt), M Kearney, C Doris, W Connors, M Deegan.

Bath: D Atkins; S Rokoduguni, M Clark, B Tapuai, H Davies; F Burns, C Cook; N Auterac, J Walker, K Palma-Newport, J Phillips, E Stooke, M Garvey (capt), G Mercer, T Faletau.

Verdict: Bath.

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