*Tony Butler. Photograph: ©INPHO/Ben Brady

TONY BUTLER has been handed a starting spot on the Munster team to face Connacht on New Year’s Day in the URC Interpro derby.

Butler is among seven changes to the Munster first fifteen. He partners Conor Murray in the half-backs with Tadhg Beirne returning to captain the side.

Hooker Eoghan Clarke will make his first start for the province. Fineen Wycherley has recovered from a shoulder injury with Rory Scannell and Jeremy Loughman also slotting into the starting XV.

In line with IRFU player management guidelines, Craig Casey and Jack Crowley were unavailable for selection.

Tony started his career with Ennis RFC at the age of five, from the U10s up he played alongside fellow Munster player Ethan Coughlan before joining Garryowen FC to play senior rugby in the AIL.

He made his Munster A debut against Connacht in November 2021 and was one of 12 players to make their senior Munster debuts in the bonus-point Champions Cup win over Wasps in December 2021.

Butler was a Grand Slam winner with the Ireland U20s in 2022.

A talented hurler, Butler has represented Clare at minor level and was a Harty Cup winner with St Flannan’s in 2020 and was a standout player for St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the underage ranks.

Munster: Simon Zebo; Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell, Shane Daly; Tony Butler, Conor Murray; Jeremy Loughman, Eoghan Clarke, Oli Jager; Fineen Wycherley, Tadhg Beirne (C); Tom Ahern, John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jack O’Donoghue, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Seán O’Brien, Shay McCarthy.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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