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Madigan’s the man for Matt


IF ever there was a time to reward the power of performance, this is it.

Ian Madigan should start ahead of Jimmy Gopperth in the PRO12 League final against those pesky, passionate Glasgow Warriors at The RDS on Saturday evening.

The misfortune that hit Paddy Jackson right in the pit of his lower back has taken him out of the two-test tour to Argentina.

It is a chance missed for the Ulster fly-half. It can be a chance retrieved for Madigan, even as a test starter.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made it his mission to unearth two test standard candidates for every position by the time the 2015 World Cup comes around late next year.

The Dubliner looked like the man most likely when he stepped ahead of Jackson in North America last summer. The impetus gained there ebbed away as Gopperth convinced Leinster coach Matt O’Connor that he had the superior game-management this season.

However, when Leinster looked to be sagging on the ropes against Ulster in the PRO12 semi-final, it was Madigan, more than anyone else, who provided the serrated edge to what had been a blunt performance.

Schmidt revealed the original Ireland selection of Jackson over Madigan had something to do with lack of recent big game time for the latter. He has had to split his responsibilities with Gopperth, while Jackson has had free reign at Ulster.

The time has come for Leinster coach O’Connor to show faith in Madigan.

It could also lead to the 25-year-old being handed the green jersey for one of the two tests Argentina.

wrapped up

Leinster wrapped up their second British & Irish Cup on Saturday with former Leeds Carnegie lock Tom Denton missing out with a quad injury which could come right for Saturday.

There are questions of consideration in the engine room for the PRO12 final. Mike McCarthy is also on the rehabilitation bike, working his way back from a leg injury suffered against Edinburgh more than two weeks ago.

It seemed like a trivial moment in the grander scheme of things when one second row Ben Marshall was withdrawn with injury and the other, Quinn Roux, almost followed him to shore in the sixth minute the Cup final on Saturday.

It meant Ireland U20 coach Mike Ruddock would have immediately crossed all fingers and toes as replacement Ross Molony arrived for Marshall with the World Cup in New Zealand set to start next week.

At least, coach O’Connor can count on the durable Devin Toner and club captain Cullen, possibly from the bench, with either McCarthy, Denton or Roux competing to partner Toner.

There are other quesitons to be taken into account too.

Has Sean O’Brien finally shaken away the cobwebs that he showed in his return against Edinburgh and Ulster?

Are the shoulder of Eoin Reddan and the calf of Isaac Boss back in 100% working order? Can scrum-half Luke McGrath or centre Noel Reid force their way onto the bench?

Glasgow’s lasting impressions this season have won favour with Scotland coach Scott Johnson through the inclusion of uncapped quartet Finn Russell and forwards Gordon Reid, Alex Allan and Kevin Bryce.

They will have the familiarity of numbering among the 19 representatives from the club in a 43-man squad to play tests against the United States, Canada, Argentina and South Africa.

Meanwhile, the fact that the 2,000 tickets outside of those taken up by the season holders were snapped up in five minutes on Friday shows the interest in seeing Leinster’s hunt for trophies continue and in seeing the last breaths taken in the careers of Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll.


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