Connacht Rugby can confirm the 16 players who have so far been named in the Connacht Academy squad for the 2020/21 season.
 
Eight players will join the Year 1 programme, five of whom are Connacht-born and were part of the Connacht squad that won the U18 Club Interprovincial Championship in 2018.
 
They are Donnacha Byrne, Hubert Costello, Eoin De Buitléar, Cathal Forde and captain Darragh Murray.
 
Joining them in Year 1 is prop Charlie Ward, lock Cian Prendergast and back row Ciaran Booth.
 
Oisín McCormack and Shane Jennings, who also featured in the U18 squad of 2018, move to Year 2 of the Academy along with Declan Adamson.
 
Year 3 features local boys Colm De Buitléar, who has recovered from a serious achilles injury he sustained last summer, and U20 Grand Slam winner Dylan Tierney-Martin.
 
They’re joined by Oran McNulty – who started at full-back in all three of this year’s U20 Six Nations games for Ireland – as well as Joshua Dunne and Seán O’Brien.
 
Further additions may be confirmed in the coming months.
 
Year 1
Donnacha Byrne
Ciaran Booth
Hubert Costello
Eoin De Buitlear
Cathal Forde
Darragh Murray
Cian Prendergast
Charlie Ward

Year 2
Declan Adamson
Shane Jennings
Oisin McCormack

Year 3
Colm De Buitlear
Joshua Dunne
Oran McNulty
Seán O’Brien
Dylan Tierney-Martin

The Connacht Eagles took to the Union Point field in Weymouth, MA yesterday afternoon for their open game of the first ever Cara Cup in the United States.
 
In bright but breezy conditions, the Eagles put in an accomplished performance to run away with a 38-7 victory over tournament hosts and Major League Rugby side the New England Free Jacks.
 
The visitors led 12-0 at the break thanks to tries from Sean O’Brien and Neal Moylett, and further scores were to follow after the break from Hugh Lane, Mark Balaski, Colm de Buitlear and Robin Copeland.
 
Next up for the squad is an inter-pro clash with Ulster A at the same venue on Wednesday evening (7pm local, 11pm Irish)

Scrum-half Caolin Blade is set to captain Connacht for the first time as his side take on Sale in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

 

With Jack Carty rested after playing seven games in a row, Blade will form a half back partnership with Academy player Conor Fitzgerald who made his debut off the bench in the win over Bordeaux-Begles last weekend. Connemara man Colm De Buitléar is named on the wing in what will also be his first competitive start for his province.

 

The back line is also boosted by the return of centre Tom Farrell who forms a midfield partnership with Kyle Godwin. The versatile Godwin scored two tries in a Man of the Match performance on the wing in the opening round.

 

Tiernan O’Halloran also returns from injury to take his place at full back. He is part of a back three that includes twenty year old De Buitlear and Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.

 

In the forwards, the experienced Denis Buckley returns at loosehead alongside hooker Shane Delahunt and Conor Carey at tighthead. Behind them will be Irish international Ultan Dillane and James Cannon.

 

In the back row, Paul Boyle moves to blindside while openside Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copeland at number 8 are both retained.

 

Two more players are in line to make their Connacht debuts off the bench. Academy prop Matthew Burke is included in the matchday 23 while summer arrival David Horwitz is also in the squad for the first time, after the out-half made an appearance for the Connacht Eagles last weekend. The bench also includes scrum-half former Sale player James Mitchell, who could make an appearance against his former club.

 

 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend feels he has picked the right blend of youth and experience to challenge Sale: “Sale are an impressive side and they are top of the pool after the bonus point win away to Perpignan last weekend. We have picked a strong side. We have a few new players coming in who are there on merit and then we have a few more experienced guys coming back from injury. We have picked a side that we think can win the game and that is our intention going over to Sale”, Friend said.

 

“With ourselves and Sale both winning in the opening round, this game will have a big say in the final standings”, he added.

 

#SALvCON

 

Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Kyle Godwin, Colm De Buitléar, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (Capt), (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Matthew Burke, Conan O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Eoin Griffin.

 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has named two Academy players on the bench for his side’s opening Challenge Cup game of the season against Bordeaux Bégles at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick off 3pm).

 

Out half Conor Fitzgerald and Connemara man Colm de Buitlear, who has featured across the back three, are named among the Connacht replacements.

 

In the starting XV the front row of props Peter McCabe and Conor Carey along with hooker Shane Delahunt are all set for their first starts of the season. In the second row there is one change from the side that defeated Ulster last weekend, with James Cannon starting alongside Quinn Roux. Captain Jarrad Butler at blindside, Colby Fainga’a at openside and number 8 Robin Copeland complete the pack.

 

Caolin Blade comes back in at scrum-half for the injured Kieran Marmion where he partners Jack Carty, who has been in outstanding form this season. Elsewhere in the back line the experienced Eoin Griffin joins Bundee Aki in midfield. Kyle Godwin is named on the wing with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing, and Cian Kelleher at full-back making up the back three.

 

On the bench lock Joe Maksymiw looks set to make his Connacht debut while there is also plenty of experience to draw on with Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham also included in the match day 23.

 

Speaking ahead of the first European fixture of the season, Head Coach Andy Friend says he went for a blend of youth and experience in his selection; “We are really looking forward to our opening game of our Challenge Cup campaign. This is a competition that Connacht have a proud tradition in and we hope to make a big impact in this season. We are coming off six tough PRO14 games, so it is only natural that there is some rotation of the squad, but we are have a good blend of youth and experience among the squad. We have included Conor Fitzgerald and Colm De Buitléar, two promising Academy players, among our replacements. We hope that they will get a chance to make their debuts at some stage during the eighty minutes. It is a big opportunity to be involved in a European fixture especially in front of the home fans in the Sportsground. We also have plenty of experience on that bench to call on if needed,” Friend said.

 

“It has been a big week for the club with the announcement of our stadium plans all coming off a good win against Ulster last weekend. We know that Bordeaux will come with a big physical side and we are expecting a massive challenge. But it will be a big occasion in the Sportsground. Our fans have been huge for us this season and they will be on a high again tomorrow I’m sure”, Friend added.

 

#CONvBOR

 

Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Cian Kelleher, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Quinn Roux, Jarrad Butler (c), Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Conán O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, Conor McKeon, Conor Fitzgerald, Colm De Buitléar.

 

 

 

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