Kelleher, Deegan and Kearney back in Leinster side to play Cheetahs

Leo Cullen has named a strong team to play the South African side in tomorrow’s Pro14 game.

Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

THE HALF-FORGOTTEN men of Irish rugby have their chance to remind people they have a future and not just a past tomorrow.

After a four-week break, Leinster are back in action, welcoming the Cheetahs to the RDS (kick-off 2.30pm), and providing a reminder to everyone just how strong their squad is.

Remember, they’ve Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jordan Larmour away on international duty. Remember, too, Garry Ringrose is injured.

And yet look at the players they have selected for this match. There’s Rob Kearney, the most decorated medallist in Irish rugby history; Rhys Ruddock, who has captained Ireland, Sean Cronin, who only makes the bench and that’s before we mention Fergus McFadden or Luke McGrath.

They all start, so too do Max Deegan, Dave Kearney and Ronan Kelleher – who were handed the weekend off international duty to get some game-minutes under their belt.

In addition, there are four players from the Leinster academy who also make the match-day 23.

Rob Kearney starts at full back with McFadden on the right wing and Dave Kearney – on the left.

In the centre Joe Tomane wears the number 12 jersey with Jimmy O’Brien outside him.

Luke McGrath is partnered by Ciarán Frawley in the half backs.

In the front row Offaly man Peter Dooley is joined by Kelleher, while Michael Bent returns from injury at tight head prop.

Ross Molony is joined by former World Cup finalist, Scott Fardy, who captains the team, in the second row.

Finally in the back row, Deegan and Ruddock are joined by Will Connors, who is selected at open side.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets): 

15. Rob Kearney (217)
14. Fergus McFadden (182)
13. Jimmy O’Brien (14)
12. Joe Tomane (19)
11. Dave Kearney (146)
10. Ciarán Frawley (22)
9. Luke McGrath (121)
1. Peter Dooley (73)
2. Rónan Kelleher (10)
3. Michael Bent (132)
4. Ross Molony (93)
5. Scott Fardy (55) CAPTAIN
6. Rhys Ruddock (169)
7. Will Connors (13)
8. Max Deegan (60)

16. Seán Cronin (178)
17. Michael Milne (5)
18. Roman Salanoa (2)
19. Ryan Baird (4)
20. Scott Penny (11)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (85)
22. Harry Byrne (6)
23. Cian Kelleher (12)

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)