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Munster launch O'Connell appeal

Munster have confirmed they have lodged an appeal against Paul O'Connell's four-week ban.

Ireland lock O'Connell was handed the suspension by a European Rugby Cup disciplinary hearing after he was sent off for striking Ospreys back-rower Jonathan Thomas during Munster's 22-16 Heineken Cup victory at Thomond Park on December 12.

The ban means the 2009 Lions captain will be available for the Irish province's crucial European trip to Toulon next month, but with the 31-year-old having missed most of the season to date with a groin injury Munster hope to have him available to play before that fixture.

A Munster statement read: "Munster Rugby can confirm they have appealed the ERC disciplinary decision handed down to Paul O'Connell at last Thursday's ERC hearing in Dublin.

"Munster Rugby now wait on the ERC to issue a date for the hearing."

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