The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
 
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
 
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
 
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
 
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground

Number/Name/Caps
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)

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

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 connachtrugby.ie 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.

Two tries from Cathal Forde, his first for the club, helped Connacht to a bonus point win over the Cell C Sharks on a wild night at The Sportsground.
 
On an evening in which the squad knew only five points would do in their quest for playoff rugby, Pete Wilkins’ side duly delivered with Conor Oliver and Tiernan O’Halloran also getting on the try sheet.
 
This was a game dominated by a wind that was strong even by Sportsground standards. With the wind going into the College Road, it was Connacht who enjoyed the advantage in the first half and knew the needed to take a lead of at least 10 to 15 points back into the dressing room.
 
The first quarter saw both sides get to grips with the conditions as Connacht expectedly possession. The breakthrough came from the ever reliant Connacht maul on 20 minutes – the pack shifting the point of focus in the corner to allow Conor Oliver to touch down. The second try and pick of the bunch followed just two minutes later, as Mack Hansen produced a wonderfully executed kick in behind the Sharks’ defence which was gathered by Tom Farrell, who then delivered his trademark offload to Cathal Forde for his first professional try.
 
The third was arguably the most important of the four as a 12 point lead turned into a 19 point lead before the break. With Connacht again deep in the Sharks’ half, the attack produced a well-worked sweeping move which was finished off by Tiernan O’Halloran under the sticks.
 
The second half expected saw the Sharks dominate territory as the winds picked up even further. However Connacht managed to take full advantage of the little possession they had in the Sharks half, and the bonus point try duly arrived on 55 minutes with a charge down from the player of the match Forde.
 
Thankfully for Connacht they had built up a 24 point lead before the Sharks began to start putting points on the scoreboard. The visitors put up two tries in the final quarter, and was very nearly three tries before a late TMO intervention, but Connacht never looked in real danger of coughing up the lead.
 
The win ensures that Andy Friend’s troops heading into the next round of Challenge Cup action with a win, and next up is the visit of Brive to The Sportsground a week from today.

Connacht have been boosted by the return of internationals Finlay Bealham and Mack Hansen for tomorrow’s vital BKT URC meeting with the Cell C Sharks at The Sportsground (k/o 5.15pm).
 
The duo along with Josh Murphy have all recovered from illness, in what are 3 of 9 changes from the side that faced Leinster.
 
Bealham joins an all-new front row of Denis Buckley and Shane Delahunt, while Oisín Dowling comes into the second row alongside the retained Darragh Murray. The back row sees Murphy come in at blindside flanker with Conor Oliver on the opposite flank and Shamus Hurley-Langton at number 8.
 
Kieran Marmion comes back in at scrum-half beside captain Jack Carty, while there’s a start for Cathal Forde at inside centre with Tom Farrell for company. The back three includes Hansen and John Porch on the wings with Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
 
“It doesn’t need repeating how important tomorrow’s fixture is. We’ve put ourselves in a position where every point is crucial in these last seven games, so 4 or 5 points tomorrow is a must.
 
We know what to expect from the Sharks. They bring the physicality that you come to expect from a South African side but they also like to throw the ball around, so it should be an exciting one for the fans.”

 
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS CELL C SHARKS
Saturday 7th January, 17:15 @ The Sportsground

Number/Name/Caps
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (213)
14. John Porch (70)
13. Tom Farrell (88)
12. Cathal Forde (4)
11. Mack Hansen (21)
10. Jack Carty (188) (C)
9. Kieran Marmion (220)
1. Denis Buckley (220)
2. Shane Delahunt (122)
3. Finlay Bealham (182)
4. Oisín Dowling (36)
5. Darragh Murray (3)
6. Josh Murphy (8)
7. Conor Oliver (51)
8. Shamus Hurley-Langton (10)

Replacements
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (12)
17. Jordan Duggan (31)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (75)
19. Leva Fifita (19)
20. Cian Prendergast (37)
21. Caolin Blade (159)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (60)
23. Byron Ralston (9)

This Saturday brings a big challenge to The Sportsground as South African side Sharks come to Galway for Round 12 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Speaking ahead of the game was Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins who feels this is a “must win game’ for the team as they look to keep touch of the play off positions.

“It is a must win game and I know Andy (Friend) said that in his post match after Leinster and there’s truth in it” said Wilkins.

“We have had a lot of must win stages in this season to date, after the first three games of the season everyone said we had to win”

“There have been a few junctures where we’ve recognised the importance of a game and the result needed and this week is one of those”

With such importance on the need for a win could a defeat be a major set back for Connacht?

“I know its a cliche to say it but we just take one game at a time, we have to win the next challenge on front of us and that’s where our focus is”

“We’ve finished our interpros for the year and they can be our toughest games, we had a tough start to the season so it has been a challenging year but we’re on the other side of that now and in touch of the top eight”

“We’re confident we can get a result this weekend”

Pete was asked if the players are ready for Saturday and if they are feeling the pressure.

“There’s a disappointment with the players after the last two results and obviously there’s that frustration after losing a game” said Wilkins

“There’s a good group of lads here and as coaches we never question their attitude heading into games”

“Every week these lads push each other to be better, sometimes results don’t go your way but its how you grow from that”

“These lads will be ready for Saturday no doubt about it”

The Sharks are coming to The Sportsground in really good form having not lost a game since November but Connacht will look to end that.

“They are a really interesting team, they are exciting to watch” said Wilkins

“They score quickly and don’t need a lot of phases but equally other teams tend to score against them without much phases”

“The challenge for us is to control those big moments and big players they have so they don’t get that quick reward”

“On our side we need to make sure we make them work and put them through their phases and ultimately get the ball back”

“We need to take them to somewhere where they are less comfortable”

Tickets for Saturday’s game are available HERE

Connacht begin their 2023 year at home to the Sharks this Saturday in the BKT United Rugby Championship in what is being seen as massive game for Andy Friend’s side.

The New Years day clash against Leinster saw Connacht leave the RDS empty handed after a promising opening 40 to the game. Tom Farrell was one of the Connacht try scorers on the day and he discussed the mood in camp as they now turn attention to the Sharks.

“It’s kinda mixed the mood to be honest”

“On our team review we thought we actually played well in some patches of the game against Leinster and Pete (Wilkins) said if we performed like that against other teams we would probably get the result”

“When you’re playing against the best team in Europe though a little lapse of concentration can hurt you which is what happened with us against Leinster”

The pressure dial now goes up as every game becomes a must win as Connacht look to get themselves back in a playoff position. For Tom though pressure isn’t something he or the rest of the squad are feeling.

“I wouldn’t say we’re feeling the pressure but there is an awareness amongst the group as to where we are in the table”

“There’s only 6 or 7 games left in the URC season so we know how important every game is between now and that final game if we want to reach the knockouts”

South African side Sharks make their first ever trip to The Sportsground this Saturday as they look to keep up their recent good form. Farrell knows what dangers the team in Durban will bring to Galway.

“They’re a really dangerous side with a number of Springboks throughout their team”

“We know from last year about their physicality and what they bring to the table”

“We’re expecting the Sharks team to show up and its up to us to make sure we’re on our game come Saturday”

“They play at a very quick pace, when they win the gain line they get good momentum off the back of it with fast dynamic players coming from everywhere”

“If you don’t stop them in the initial few phases they are a hard team to stop”

“We need to limit that access they will look to find through their dynamic ball players”

The Connacht team for Saturday will be named this Friday

It’s Round 12 for us in the BKT United Rugby Championship this Saturday as we welcome South African side Sharks to The Sportsground.

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

When’s the game?

Kick-off is 5.15pm on Saturday 7th January.

What’s the state of play so far?

Connacht come into the game looking to bounce back from the weekends defeat to Leinster at the RDS

The Sharks arrive to Galway having beaten the DHL Stormers at the weekend on the back of a 100% winning record during the month of December.

How’s our recent record against them?

Our only meeting with the Sharks came last season in Durban when the home side won 41-21. This was our second game in South Africa at the end of a long season having beaten the Lions the previous weekend.

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 connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets available HERE

What channel is it on?

TV viewing on RTE 2 and Viaplay while Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

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