This week it was announced that Dylan Tierney-Martin signed a new 3-year contract keeping him at The Sportsground till 2026. He was speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against the Emirates Lions about the new deal.

“I’m delighted about it” said Dylan

“I’ve been in Connacht my whole life, the last few years haven’t been easy with opportunities to show what I can do but towards the end of last season and this season I’ve been able to get minutes on the pitch to show what I can do”

“I’m really excited with what we can do over the next few years, winning a trophy with Connacht is one of my aims”

Tomorrow its back to BKT United Rugby Championship action for Connacht as they welcome the Lions who ended a bad run of result’s last weekend when they beat the Dragons. The Connacht hooker Tierney-Martin spoke about the challenge he’s expecting for the South African side.

“Every team no matter where they are provide a different challenge, Welsh teams are different, French and South African, they all bring something different”

“I suppose the one thing that South African teams bring is that they are always in the fight”

“These guys coming at the weekend have an unbelievable scrum and have some really good individuals in the front row but we also have a good scrum which that stats would back”

“We really want to get after their scrum and back ourselves in the scrum”

Connacht welcome South African side Emirates Lions to The Sportsground this Saturday for Round 13 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, k/o 7:35pm.

Last weekend was a tough day at the office for Connacht losing to Newcastle in the Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby Andy Friend said the squad left England frustrated with the performance at Kingston Park.

“We reviewed the game and its frustrating that we can’t change it regards the result and mistakes we made”

“A massive opportunity was missed”

This weekend attention turns o the Lions who got their first win since mid December after beating the Dragons and Andy knows that will give them new confidence coming to Galway.

“They won at the weekend which was their first in a few games so that should give them confidence coming here”

“We know they are a tenacious side, they stay in the game and keep fighting till the end”

“I think their game is built on set piece”

“They have a massive scrum with a big forward pack and have a really good maul”

“They have a good attack but our defence is one of the strongest parts of our game so I’m confident that our lads can stop them”

“They might not have the star names like the other South African sides but they have some talented individuals that can hurt teams”

For Connacht the hope of reaching the play-offs are still in sight but Andy Friend know’s they need to get on a winning run from now till the end of the season.

“We can’t afford another slip up in the URC this season as we’ve used up all that”

“We are very aware of how big Saturday’s game is to us”

This will be Andy’s last season involved with Connacht and he spoke about how the time is flying as they get closer to the end of the campaign.

“Time is flying by and its hard to believe that we only have a minimum of six URC games left and a minimum of one Challenge Cup game”

“There’s still a job to do here and its really important that we don’t have any more slip ups”

“Our backs are to the wall and that’s down to us but I’m hoping we finish strong which I believe we can do”

Tickets for Saturday’s game are available HERE

Tighthead prop Sam Illo has renewed his contract for another two years, keeping him at Connacht Rugby until at least 2025.

Illo joined Connacht from Leinster in 2021 and has so far made 7 appearances. Like his teammates who announced new deals this week, Illo also has experience on the international scene at U20 level. He was also a part of the Emerging Ireland squad that travelled to South Africa last year.

Sam Illo says:

“Moving to the West of Ireland was a big change for me. Connacht gave me an opportunity of my first Pro contract and I feel like I’ve learned a huge amount since joining the club. Now I want to really kick on and get more minutes under my belt to help the club succeed.” Andy Friend says:

“Sam has a lot of natural raw ability that, with further development, could help him turn into a top-class tighthead. We’ve already seen huge improvements to his game in his 18 months with us so far, so his two-year contract extension allows the club to help him to continue to grow and develop.”

The EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 fixture dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage have been confirmed with Connacht playing Benetton on Saturday April 1st.

The game will be played in the Studio di Monigo with kick-off at 3pm Irish time. The game will be shown on EPCR TV.

The winner of the tie will go on to play either Cardiff Rugby or Sale Sharks the following weekend of April 7/8/9.

(Pool stage rankings in brackets / All kick-offs local times)

Friday 31 March
Match 4: Bristol Bears (A4) v ASM Clermont Auvergne (HCC9), Ashton Gate (20.00)
Viaplay-Premier Sports / beIN SPORTS

Match 8: Scarlets (B1) v CA Brive (A6), Parc y Scarlets (20.00)

Saturday 1 April
Match 1: RC Toulon (A1) v Toyota Cheetahs (B6), Stade Félix Mayol (13.30)

Match 5: Stade Francais Paris (B4) v Lyon (HCC9), Stade Jean Bouin (16.00)

Match 7: Benetton Rugby (B2) v Connacht Rugby (A5), Stadio di Monigo (16.00)

Match 2: Glasgow Warriors (A2) v Dragons RFC (B5), Scotstoun (17.30)

Match 6: Emirates Lions (B3) v Racing 92 (HCC10), Emirates Airline Park (18.30)

Match 3: Cardiff Rugby (A3) v Sale Sharks (HCC10), Cardiff Arms Park (20.00)

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April
QF 1: Winner Match 1 v Winner Match 5
QF 2: Winner Match 7 v Winner Match 3
QF 3: Winner Match 2 v Winner Match 6
QF 4: Winner Match 8 v Winner Match 4
NB The highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home advantage

Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April
SF 1: winner QF 1 v winner QF 2
SF 2: winner QF 3 v winner QF 4
NB The matches will be played in Europe and the highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home venue advantage

2023 EPCR Challenge Cup final: Friday 19 May; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

It’s back to BKT United Rugby Championship action this weekend as we take on the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground this Saturday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game.

When’s the game?

Kick-off is 7.35pm on Saturday 28th January.

What’s the state of play so far?

Connacht will be looking to make it two wins from two in the URC after beating the Sharks the last day out. Andy Friend will be without his Irish Internationals as they are away on 6 Nations duty.

The Lions have lost their last four games including last weekends game to Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup.

How’s our recent record against them?

Last season at the end of April was our first and only meeting with the Lions away in South Africa.

  • Lio 30-33 Con

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad on Friday at midday when it will be named on and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets available HERE

What channel is it on?

TV viewing on TG4 and Viaplay, Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Ireland Head Coach Greg McWilliams and the National Coaching Team have named a panel of 42 players that will compete in the Celtic Challenge competition against their counterparts from Scotland and Wales.

Leinster’s Hannah O’Connor and Munster’s Enya Breen have been named co-captains for the Celtic Challenge campaign

In the first year of the Celtic Challenge, the Vodafone sponsored Combined Provinces XV will play in two home and two away games over a six-week period. The first game of the competition took place over the weekend with WRU Development XV defeating The Thistles 29-27 at Scotstoun Stadium.

The Combined Provinces XV will play their two home games at Kingspan Stadium, facing the Scottish Thistles on Saturday 4th February and the WRU Development XV on Saturday 18th February.

The Irish sides’ first fixture of the competition is away to their Welsh counterparts this coming Sunday 29th January at the Cardiff Arms Park. The competition concludes four weeks prior to the start of the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship.

Gillian McDarby, IRFU Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways, commented:

“This pilot tournament will give us an opportunity to expose a wider group of players to cross border competition.  We have ambition to grow this competition to include more Irish representative sides over the next three to five years and I am looking forward to seeing how the first edition unfolds over the coming weeks.”

Greg McWilliams, Ireland Head Coach, commented, “This is an exciting new competition that provides a really excellent opportunity for our extended squad of players to prepare for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and gain valuable competitive experience and exposure to high level competition.

The Celtic Challenge provides us as a national coaching group with a window to work closely with players we’ve been tracking throughout the Women’s Energia All-Ireland League and the recent Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship.

It is an exciting group of players, combining youth and experience, and it will be invaluable for us to come together as a group for an extended period to build cohesion and connections ahead of the Six Nations campaign. We’re looking forward to the challenge over the coming weeks.”

Combined Provinces Squad – 2023 Celtic Challenge

Clara Barrett (Connacht/UL Bohemians RFC)
Sophie Barrett (Ulster/Enniskillen RFC)
Claire Bennett (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
Chloe Blackmore (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
Molly Boyne (Leinster/Railway Union RFC/Dublin University FC)
Natasja Behan (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Enya Breen (Munster/Blackrock College RFC) (Co-Captain)
Megan Louise Collis (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
Eimear Corri (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Nicole Cronin (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
India Daley (Ulster/Cooke RFC/Enniskillen RFC)
Aoife Dalton (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Meabh Deely (Connacht/Blackrock College RFC)
Orla Dixon (Connacht/Galwegians RFC)
Linda Djougang (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Anna Doyle (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Aoife Doyle (Munster/Railway Union RFC)
Ella Durkan (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC)
Christy Haney (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Mary Healy (Leinster/Naas RFC/Suttonians RFC)
Emma Hooban (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Ailsa Hughes (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
Brittany Hogan (Ulster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Jess Keating (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Maeve Nuala Liston (Ulster/Blackrock College RFC)
Molly Scuffil McCabe (Leinster/Railway Union)
Kelly McCormill (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
Sadhbh McGrath (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
Rachel McIlroy (Ulster/QUB RFC)
Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Munster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Dannah O’Brien (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Hannah O’Connor (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC) (Co-Captain)
Niamh O’Dowd (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Clodagh O’Halloran (Munster/UL Bohemians RFC)
Maeve Og O’Leary (Munster/Blackrock College RFC)
Ella Roberts (Leinster/Wicklow RFC)
Stacey Sloan (Ulster/Cooke RFC)
Leah Tarpey (Leinster/Railway Union RFC)
Fiona Tuite (Ulster/Old Belvedere RFC)
Aoife Wafer (Leinster/Blackrock College RFC)
Kayla Waldron (Connacht/Galwegians RFC)
Dorothy Wall (Munster/Blackrock College RFC)
Katie Whelan (Leinster/Old Belvedere RFC)

Celtic Challenge Fixtures & Results

The Thistles 27 WRU Development XV 29

Sunday 22th January 2023 – Scotstoun Stadium

WRU Development XV v Combined Provinces XV
Sunday 29th January 2023 – Cardiff Arms Park (KO: 11.00am)

Combined Provinces XV v The Thistles
Saturday 4th February 2023 – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast (KO: 4.30pm)

WRU Development XV v The Thistles
Saturday 11th February – Cardiff Arms Park (KO: 4.30pm)

Combined Provinces XV v WRU Development XV
Saturday 18th February 2023 – Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, (KO: 4.30pm)

The Thistles v Combined Provinces XV
Saturday 25th February 2023 – DAM Health Stadium (KO: 1.30pm)

A night to forget in Newcastle as Connacht leave Kingston Park empty handed in the Challenge Cup.

Heading into the game Connacht had the potential of playing home games in the knockout stages of the competition but those dreams were wiped away after a 35-21 defeat to Newcastle Falcons.

It was a nightmare start in the North East of England with the home side getting three tries in the opening 20 minutes. Micky Young with the first in the third minute before Matias Orlando in the tenth and Tian Schoeman in the 19th which had Falcons 21-0 up.

Nine minutes into the game Connacht were down to 14 men when Byron Ralston was sent to the sin bin.

Midway through the first half though Connacht got themselves back into the game. Finlay Bealham with his first of three tries in the 21st minute after squeezing over with a penalty advantage as Newcastle made a mess of the restart after their try

Seven minutes later Finlay got his second when he drove over the line. Conor Fitzgerald scored his second conversion to bring the men in green to within a converted try of the hosts.

With the score being 21-14 at half-time Connacht needed to make the brighter start in the second forty. Two minutes in however it was Newcastle who got their fourth try of the game from Josh Barton who took advantage of some poor tackling.

Connacht needed the next score and they got it, after a few close drives in the build up Finlay completed his hat-trick, Fitzgerald added the conversion to make it 28-21 with 54 minutes on the clock.

Unfortunately for Connacht though that was as close as they got with Pete Lucock getting the fifth Falcons try before Josh Thomas converted to finish the scoring at 35-21.

The result means Connacht will now play Benetton away in the last 16.


Dates and times confirmed for Challenge Cup Last 16

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