Irish Rugby
Ireland sweat on O'Connell injury
ESPN Staff
May 7, 2012
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell during training, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, September 16, 2011
Lock Paul O'Connell picked up a knee injury in Munster's latest PRO12 success against Ulster © Getty Images
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Paul O'Connell is a major injury concern for Ireland ahead of their tour of New Zealand next month after the lock suffered a serious-looking knee injury in Munster's PRO12 victory over Ulster on Friday night.

The 32-year-old limped out of his side's 36-8 win against their provincial rivals that set up a semi-final with Ospreys on Friday night. O'Connell has not yet been officially ruled out of that with a scan scheduled for this week but reports suggest he will miss the Ospreys game and may also be sidelined for the three-Test series with New Zealand in June.

An injury to the same knee, suffered against France, cut short O'Connell's Six Nations campaign and kept him out of action until he returned to domestic duty last month. "He was assisted off the field so that's a good indicator, not a good sign," said Munster coach Tony McGahan. "It's the same knee, but the injury he had before was more of a cut, an infection in there - this one is more of a twist, so we will have to wait and see."

Forwards coach Anthony Foley also admitted the defending PRO12 champions are sweating on his fitness. After the match, Foley said: "At the moment, he is in there with ice on (his leg). In the next 24 to 48 hours we'll know more."

Ireland tackle the Barbarians in a pre-tour game at Gloucester on May 29 and kick off their series against the All Blacks in Auckland on June 9 with further matches in Christchurch (June 16) and Hamilton (June 23).

Hooker Damien Varley is also considered doubtful for the clash with Ospreys after spraining his ankle against Ulster but playmakers Ronan O'Gara and Ian Keatley are expected to return to fitness for the game.

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