Ireland international Kieran Marmion has recovered from a back injury to take his place on Connacht’s starting team for the Champions Cup clash away to Montpellier on Sunday (Kick off 3:15pm Irish Time).

The scrum half hasn’t played for Connacht since the win over Ospreys in the Sportsground at the beginning of November. Marmion’s inclusion sees him renew his half back partnership with fellow international Jack Carty.

Elsewhere in the backline, Kyle Godwin comes into the Connacht midfield to partner Bundee Aki. While in the back three Tiernan O’Halloran is named at fullback with John Porch and Connacht’s record try scorer Matt Healy on the wings.

In the forwards, hooker Dave Heffernan who was named in Andy Farrell’s first Six Nations squad during the week, starts alongside props Paddy McAllister and Dominic Robertson McCoy. In the second row Joe Maksymiw and Gavin Thornbury are both selected in the second row, with 20 year old Niall Murray among the replacements.

In the backrow, Eoghan Masterson comes in at blindside with Colby Fainga’a at openside and Captain Jarrad Butler at number 8.

Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We had a great win over Montpellier in the opening round but we are under no illusion that the return leg will be a huge challenge. We have picked a strong side and are aiming to win the game and regain some momentum ahead of an important block of games coming in the Pro14”.

“We are delighted to see Kieran Marmion back from injury. He has been out since November and has worked really hard to get back on the field. His experience alongside Jack Carty, will be a boost to us on Sunday”.

Connacht Matchday Squad V Montpellier (Sun 19 Dec, 3:15pm Irish Time)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Paddy McAllister, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Denis Buckley, Conor Kenny, Niall Murray, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

The Connacht squad trained at The Sportsground this morning ahead of their final Heineken Champions Cup clash away to Montpellier in France on Sunday.
 
Despite missing out on qualification to the knock-out stages at the weekend, Andy Friend’s side will be looking to finish the campaign on a high before they head into a break for the start of the Six Nations.
 
The squad have been boosted by the return of a further number of players, with the likes of Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell and Peter Robb all training this week after their return from their respective injuries.
 
The side take on Montpellier at 3.15pm Irish time at the GGL Stadium this Sunday.
 

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has recalled a host of Irish internationals for tomorrow’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash with Toulouse at the Sportsground (k/o 3.15pm).
 
Jack Carty and Bundee Aki are named at out-half and outside-centre respectively after sitting out the last two weeks, while there are also returns to the starting team for fellow internationals Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Matt Healy.
 
There’s further good news in the back-row where Jarrad Butler and Colby Fainga’a have both recovered from injury, with Butler captaining the side at number 8 and Fainga’a joined by Paul Boyle on the flanks.
 
Ultan Dillane will be partnered by Gavin Thornbury in the second row, while Paddy McAllister and Tom McCartney join Bealham in the front row to complete the pack.
 
Scrum-half Stephen Kerins is handed his first Champions Cup start, with Caolin Blade among the replacements having started the last nine games for Connacht.
 
Bundee Aki is partnered by Peter Robb in the centre, while Matt Healy is joined by winger Niyi Adeolokun and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran in the back three.
 
Commenting on today’s squad announcement, Andy Friend says:

“It’s been a difficult Christmas period for everyone, but we’ve a lot of returning players which is exactly what we need. With our captain Jarrad Butler back in the side and players like Jack and Bundee returning from their break, I believe this is a squad full of quality and experience that can win this game.”
 
Regarding tomorrow’s opponents, Friend added:

“This game is exactly what we need. We’ve got a great opportunity to come up against the French champions and challenge them in our own backyard. We know it’s a must-win tie to keep our quarter-final hopes alive, and with our home crowd behind us I know the players will relish the occasion.”
 
CONNACHT MATCHDAY SQUAD V TOULOUSE (11/1/20 @ 15:15)
15-9: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Stephen Kerins.
1-8: Paddy McAllister, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (C).
Replacements: David Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, David Horwitz, John Porch.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

Situated in the enviable region of the South of France, Montpellier is a charming city steeped in history.
 
Impressive buildings and sun-drenched squares are the main attraction, while the white sandy beaches and lustrous mountains are not far away.
 
How to get there?

There are no direct flights to Montpellier Airport in the winter time, but there is a way to get there thanks to Ireland West Airport in Knock.

It is possible to fly from Ireland West to Toulouse via a stopover in Gatwick Airport, and once you land in Toulouse you can take a train to Montpellier.

Where to stay?

Montpellier is renowned for 17th and 18th century style mansions that can be enjoyed as accommodation. Due to the proximity of the city to the stadium, most people can enjoy a stay in the Place de al Comedie, the main square in Montpellier. There is accommodation for all budgets, from beautiful French mansions to self-catering apartments.

For those who wish to be within in walking distance to the stadium, the closest hotel is the Apart City Confort Ovalie and Clos de l’Herminier,which are both an 8 minute walk to the stadium.

City to Stadium

The city to the stadium is a 15-minute drive. Take Line 2 on the tram in the direction of Sabine Saint Jean de Vedas. There is a free matchday shuttle that brings you from the Sabines tram stop to the GGL stadium. Alternatively, you can walk from the Sabines stop to the stadium.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on the Montpellier website HERE.

Tickets in the ground are mostly seated, with some options of standing tickets. The cheapest tickets are behind the goals, while the most expensive are the Eden and Ellis park stands.

Stadium

Eating and drinking in the stadium is done using a pre-loaded card system. You can purchase this prior to the game. There is a wide selection of the bars and restaurants around the stadium.

Bars in the city

There are numerous fantastic authentic bars and restaurants around Montpellier. Be sure to try some of the local wine, Montpellier is the world’s largest wine region.

Los Parigos : a homely tapas bar that serves great wine, tapas and a homely atmosphere.

La Chistera : one of the most bustling bars in Montpellier and happens to be owned by none other than François Trinh-Duc.

O’Carolans and Fitzpatricks Pub: for a creamy Guinness before the game and some post-match Irish craic,

Food in the city

La Petit Jardin: Amazing food with a magical setting and views of the city’s cathedral.

L’Idee Savours: Family run restaurant with a warm comfortable atmosphere.

Burger et Blanquette: Casual and laidback burger restaurant.

Sightseeing

Montpellier is a great little compact city that is very easy to walk around. The tram service is an easy way to roam around the sights. The main points of interest in the city are:
Ag
Place de la Comedie: The tourist heart of Montpellier

Port du Peyrou: Famous Landmark Arch

Promenade of Peyrou: Louis XIV statue with amazing city views

Montpellier Cathedral: Dates back to 1536

Hiking and Wine tasting

Pic Saint-Loup is 30 minutes north of Montpellier, with incredible views of the vineyards, once you descend you can stop for a taste of the local wine, For those who want to experience wine tasting only, you can enjoy a wine tour of this area.

Beach

If you feel like some sea air and a Mediterranean dip, the beautiful beaches are 20 minutes away. The closest beaches are Carnon and Palavas-les-Flots. You can catch a taxi or combine getting the tram with the local bus to the different beaches.

With just a six-day turnaround before the Gloucester return fixture, the squad held a gym session at The Sportsground this morning before returning to on-pitch matters tomorrow.
 
Join them for a simply must-win game in Europe this Saturday!
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

Check out the best pics from yesterday’s disappointing Heineken Champions Cup defeat to Gloucester here.
 
Don’t forget the return fixture takes place this Saturday at The Sportsground in a simply must-win game. You can book your spot in the link below.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

Connacht have been boosted by the return of their captain Jarrad Butler to the starting team to face Gloucester in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday in Kingsholm (Kick off 1pm).
 
Butler starts at number 8 having come off the bench last week following a knee injury. He joins a back row that includes Eoghan Masterson and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Elsewhere in the forwards, there is a highly experienced front row with hooker Tom McCartney and props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham. In the second row Joe Maksymiw starts alongside Quinn Roux.
 
Bundee Aki has a new partner in midfield with Peter Robb coming into the side, while a late injury to Matt Healy sees John Porch switching from the wing to full back. The former Australian Sevens player, who scored two tries last weekend, is part of a back three with Kyle Godwin and Niyi Adeolokun occupying the wings.
 
Jack Carty comes back in at out half where he renews his half back partnership with the impressive Caolin Blade.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “The back to back fixtures in this competition are always critical and the next two weeks against Gloucester will decide our Champions Cup season. Next week will be a huge occasion but first we have to get a result on Sunday. For now, we are solely focused on that away leg and we are travelling to Gloucester with the belief that we can win the game”.
 
“It is great to have Jarrad Butler back in the side. As our captain he has a massive influence on the group and his presence will be important for such a big occasion. We have also made a few positional changes to our side. Matt Healy picked up a knock in training so John Porch will slot in at full back and Kyle Godwin moves to the wing. We have used over forty players so far this season so we know the depth that we have and that will be tested again in the coming weeks.”
 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Gloucester (SUN 8 Dec, 1pm)

(15-9): John Porch, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Kyle Godwin, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

The squad trained at The Sportsground this morning with all the focus on a massive few weeks in Europe, starting this Sunday at Kingsholm away to Gloucester Rugby.
 
Gloucester repay the visit 10 days from now in a game you simply don’t want to miss!
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

This Roman influenced city is the gateway to the Cotswolds and the furthest inland port city in England. A city with plenty of charm and history to make it a fun filled weekend.
 
Getting There

Ireland West Airport, who are official partners of Connacht Rugby, offer a route to Birmingham Airport which is just 1 hour and 20 minutes from Gloucester.

You can then book a train ticket with trainline to bring you from Birmingham Airport directly to the city centre.
 
Where to Stay

Gloucester has a range of accommodation to suit any budget. It is an easy city to get around no matter where you stay. The docks and quays area have some good choices. If you chose to stay at the docks, you are a 10 minute drive from Kingsholm Stadium.
 
City to Stadium

Kingsholm Stadium is conveniently located in the city and is no more than a 10-minute train or bus from the centre or the quays. Both the gold and orange line will take you straight to Kingsholm.
 
Tickets

Tickets can be purchased directly from Gloucester Rugby HERE.

The Malvern Tyres and Stowford Press Stand are both covered with seating.
 
Stadium

A lot of supporters gather in the Kingsholm Inn near the stadium before entering the ground. Make sure to catch happy hour at the stadium which runs from the time gates open until 1 hour before kick-off. There is a wide selection of food offerings and pre match entertainment in the fan zone.
 
Bars in the city

The Pelican Inn: For some good ale before or after the game.
The Cider Tree: A restored 15th century coach house.
Dr Fosters Victorian Bar and Warehouse: Located in a warehouse right on Gloucester docks.
The New Inn: A historic bar with great English Ale.
 
Food in the City

So Pie: If you fancy a warm pie on matchday then head to this pie specialist on the docks.
Brewhouse and Kitchen: Brewhouse use their own homemade craft beer in each recipe.
The Old Bell-Tigers Eye: Famous for serving Pan Asian cuisine on a Black Rock grill.
The Grill Shed: Where you will find grilled, high quality meat dishes.
 
Sightseeing

Gloucester Cathedral: A gothic 11th century building that houses the tomb of King Edward II and famous for featuring in many films such as Harry Potter.
Gloucester Docks: Lots of old Victorian dock houses and great for a leisurely stroll.
St Michael’s Buildings: The highest tower in the city where the four main streets meet.
 
Cotswolds

Known for its quaint English towns and rolling hills, this famous part of England has a lot to offer. The picturesque towns of Painwick and others in the Cotswolds are only 1 hour train from Gloucester and perfect for hikers and cyclists.
 

After our trip to Gloucester, there’s just a six-day turnaround before the Premiership side return the favour and visit The Sportsground. It’s set to be another massive European occasion on College Road, so book your spot now before it’s too late.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE

This colourful French city is known as the pink city (La Ville Rose) and as one of the most attractive cities in France. Toulouse is the epitome of a rugby city and an atmosphere not to be missed if you want to catch an away game. It has something for everyone from nature to history and great food.
 
Where to stay?

Toulouse is a nice compact city and a walker’s paradise. The main hub of the city is around Place du Capitole. Just like Mont Pellier you can stay in some really quirky hotels with lots of history and interesting architecture.

If you wish to be close to the stadium the Ibis Toulouse and Hotel Alize is a 10-minute walk to Stade Ernest Wallon.
 
City to Stadium

The Metro goes from Jean Jaures station which brings you to Line B and then brings you North to Barriere de Paris station in 30 minutes. Here you can take a shuttle bus to the stadium which is 10 minutes away.

A taxi will take 20 minutes and should cost around €20. Ensure you mention Stade Ernest Wallon.
 
Tickets

Tickets can be purchased from the Toulouse website HERE

Stade Ernest Wallon is a fully seated stadium. Tickets are price based on categories. Cat 1 and Cat 2 are usually the most expensive in the middle of the pitch and range to Cat 10 and Cat 11 at the goal ends.
 
Stadium

The atmosphere in the stadium is incredible, there is a selection of food stalls and bars, and the pr- match entertainment promises to be exciting. You can download the stadium app for free and order food and beverages from your seat in the stadium.
 
Bars in the City

The Danu Bar: This famous bar is a must for any rugby fan in Toulouse, it promises lots of atmosphere and a good spot for a bite before setting off for the game. The walls of rugby memorabilia will keep you entertained.

The Melting Pot Bar: Another famous Irish bar that has a buzzing atmosphere and cheaper pints than the rest of the city.

Bar a La Une: If you are looking for a true Toulouse experience then look no further than this hidden bar. Here you will find some French cuisine and lots of delicious wines to taste.

Chez ta Mere: If it is live music you are after then you can be sure to find some local talented artists here that teamed with it’s artistic quirky décor you will be sure to enjoy your night.
 
Food in the City

Le Colombier: This family run favourite is away from the tourist traps you may find yourself in and the dishes are good value for money.

Xavier: The owner Francois Bourgon has been named the best fromagier in France. It offers all types of cheeses you could imagine and lots of wine to accompany.

Le Grenier de Pepe: Granpas attic is a place for some crepes, fondue and all the French delicacies you find yourself in search of. Most dishes are great value for money.
 
Sightseeing

Toulouse has a network of bus, tram and metro lines. Free, electric shuttle buses circles the city centre six days a week. They are normally red and white and do not have set stops, that you can flag down.

· Couvent des Jacobins: A magnificent gothic monastery built in 1229

· Pont Neuf: A bridge over the Garonne river and perfect for a walk or a cycle

· Capitole de Toulouse: The main square in the city is surrounded by impressive buildings, great eateries and great for a walk around

· Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse: This beautiful Romanesque church is a must see on your visit to Toulouse.
 
Airbus Factory

Airbus and Aeroscopia Aeronautical Museum offers a chance for all plane buffs to visit the factory where they assemble the A380 the world’s largest passenger plane along with the famous Concorde, once the world’s fastest passenger jet

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