Tom Farrell’s last-gasp try ended Toyota Cheetahs’ unbeaten start to the Guinness PRO14 season in a tense match that included seven tries and a red card in Galway.
The hosts led 14-5 at the break thanks to tries from Niyi Adeolokun and Kieran Marmion but the Cheetahs bit back after the break to go 22-16 ahead.
However, a red card to Cheetahs centre Dries Swanepoel mid-way through the second-half proved to be a turning point and Farrell scored twice to snatch the points.
The Cheetahs arrived with a spring in their step and averaging more than 50 points per game, but the Sportsground is a notoriously difficult place to play and Connacht attacked with gusto from the first whistle.
The Cheetahs held on gainfully but the hosts finally broke through to score in the 14th minute when they moved the ball wide to the right.
Fly-half Conor Fitzgerald wrapped around and off-loaded to wing Adeolokun to power through and dot down.
The Cheetahs’ away record since joining the Guinness PRO14 leaves a lot to be desired but this is a different Cheetahs side and one which is likely to be right in the mix come June.
They responded impressively just before the half-hour mark, with Joseph Dweba bulldozing over off the back of a driving maul. The Cheetahs were excellent in the second-half, with a Ruan Pienaar penalty and Rhyno Smith converted try putting them one point ahead.
Connacht thought they regained the lead when John Porch intercepted the ball on his own tryline before sprinting 100 metres to dot down, only for it be brought back for offside.
That looked like being the key moment, as the Cheetahs regained the ball inside the Connacht five-metre line and crossed through Clayton Blommetjies.
Swanepoel’s red card for a headbutt on Caolin Blade proved to be a massive blow to the Cheetahs with ten minutes remaining.
The Cheetahs dug deep and resisted for as long as they could but Connacht gained field position on the five-metre line, drew defenders to the breakdown and then moved right for Farrell to dot down.
Connacht Scorers: Tries: Niyi Adeolokun, Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell 2 Conversions: Conor Fitzgerald 2
CONNACHT: Stephen Fitzgerald; Niyi Adeolokun (Darragh Leader), Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb (Tom Farrell), John Porch; Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade), Denis Buckley (Matthew Burke), Tom McCartney (Dave Heffernan), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy), Gavin Thornbury (Ultan Dillane), Quinn Roux (Cillian Gallagher) Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle.

CHEETAHS: Rhyno Smith; Clayton Blommetjies, Dries Swanepoel, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Anthony Volmink (William Small-Smith), Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar; Ox Nche (Boan Venter), Joseph Dweba (Wilmar Arnoldi), Aarnos Coetzee (Luan de Bruin), Sintu Manjezi, Walt Steenkamp (JP du Preez), Gerhard Olivier, Junior Pokomela (Sias Koen), Jasper Wiese.

Head Coach Andy Friend has made four changes to the Connacht starting team from the side that recorded a bonus point win over Dragons two weeks ago.
With Tiernan O’Halloran and Paddy McAllister out of action until December, Connacht have had to reshuffle slightly but Darragh Leader has returned from a leg injury to take his place on the bench.
Stephen Fitzgerald comes straight into the side at fullback for the injured O’Halloran. He is part of a new look back three that sees Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings. Fitzgerald’s brother Conor is retained at out half following his impressive start to the season, and he forms a half back partnership with Kieran Marmion.
The midfield remains unchanged with Peter Robb and Kyle Godwin continuing their partnership.
Loosehead Denis Buckley comes back into the side for his first start of the season, alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.
The second row sees Gavin Thornbury and Quinn Roux together for the fourth straight game, while the backrow also has a familiar look to it with Captain Jarrad Butler at openside, Eoghan Masterson at blindside and Paul Boyle occupying the number 8 jersey.
Connacht face a Cheetahs side that have been hugely impressive in their opening games with three bonus point wins recorded in Bloemfontein. This impressive form is something that Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says his side will be well prepared for:
“The Cheetahs have been impressive in their opening three games and have three bonus points on the board so we will have to be at our best against them. But we have a had a really good start to the season as well, with two wins from our opening three games so fans can expect an exciting game on Saturday evening”.
Commenting on his team selection he added; “Unfortunately we have to plan without Tiernan O’Halloran and Paddy McAllister until December but I have always said that this block of thirteen games in a row was going to require real depth in our squad. We have picked a match day 23 targeting a home win.”

Connacht Matchday Squad V Toyota Cheetahs (Sat 26 OCT, 5.15PM)
(15-9): Stephen Fitzgerald, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Cillian Gallagher, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader.

It’s matchweek at The Sportsground where Connacht host the Toyota Cheetahs in Round 4 of the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14.
The game promises to be an entertaining affair, with the Cheetahs looking to extend their lead at the top of Conference A and Connacht aiming for three wins on the bounce.
Here’s the latest ticket update for those thinking of coming along to the game:

  • The Enclosure is SOLD OUT.
  • Tickets for the Main Stand and Grant Thornton Seated Stand are almost gone, with very limited availability in both sections.
  • As always the Clan Stand is not on general sale, but is available to those who wish to purchase or upgrade a Gold Hospitality ticket. This includes food & drink in the Heineken Rugby Clubhouse, live music & entertainment, a complimentary match programme and more.
  • There is general availability in the Bohermore & College Road Ends.

13 weeks of non-stop rugby begins on Saturday week when Connacht host PRO14 Conference A leaders the Cheetahs at The Sportsground.
It already has the potential to be one of the games of the Championship so far, with the Cheetahs’ expansive style of play coming up against a Connacht side aiming for three wins on the bounce.

Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
When’s the game?

Kick-off at the Sportsground is at 5.35pm on Saturday 26th October.
What’s the state of play so far?

Cheetahs have arguably been the most impressive team in the Guinness PRO14 so far. The South Africans are on three bonus points win from three with a massive 151 points scored, most recently a 40-16 win at home to Munster. This will be their first away game of the season so they’ll be looking to take that run of form on the road.

Connacht meanwhile have responded to that opening day defeat to Scarlets in perfect fashion. Two bonus point wins over Benetton and Dragons leaves Andy Friend’s side in second place in Conference B on 10 points.
How’s our recent record against them?

The two sides last met in February when Connacht recorded a 25-17 win, with a last minute try from captain Jarrad Butler sealing a crucial win.

The Cheetahs’ only other visit to The Sportsground came the previous season when Connacht were also the victors, 23-15.

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm the day before the game when it will be named on and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
Are tickets still available?

Yes tickets are available in the Bohermore & College Road Ends and a very limited number in the Grant Thornton Seated Stand.  You can also enjoy the game in the Clan Stand with a Gold Hospitality Package with includes pre-match food and drink, live music and entertainment, a match programme and more.

What if I can’t make the game?

There will be live TV coverage on TG4 while Galway Bay FM will also have live radio commentary.
How can I get there?

There is plenty of car parks within walking distance to The Sportsground, all of which are listed below. Please note that local restrictions will be in place so please respect our neighbours at all times.


We were delighted to welcome back the Half-Time Minis Rugby to The Sportsground last Saturday as teams from four clubs got to take to the Sportsground pitch.
Creggs RFC, Monivea RFC, Carrick-on-Shannon RFC and An Ghaeltacht Rugbai contested the half-time action during the Connacht v Cheetahs game in the Guinness PRO14.
Check out some of the best pics of the kids in action!

Connacht regained 3rd place in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14 on Saturday with a narrow but important win over the Toyota Cheetahs at The Sportsground.
That result coupled with losses for Ospreys and the Cardiff Blues means Andy Friend’s side have opened up a lead over their playoff rivals ahead of Friday night’s tough trip to the Glasgow Warriors.
The head coach along with Jack Carty spoke to the media about the win and the challenge in the week’s ahead at Saturday’s post-match press conference.

Ultan Dillane, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell have all been named in the Connacht starting team for tomorrow’s vital Guinness PRO14 inter-conference clash with the Toyota Cheetahs at The Sportsground on Saturday (k/o 5.30pm). Andy Friend’s side is also boosted by the return from injury of Kieran Marmion who is named among the replacements.
Captain Jarrad Butler is again named at number 8 in a back row that includes flankers Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a. Ultan Dillane, who impressed off the bench against Scotland in the Six Nations last week, is partnered in the second row by James Cannon. Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham complete the pack in the front row.
In the backs Caolin Blade and Jack Carty renew their half-back partnership while Tom Daly starts alongside Tom Farrell in midfield. In the back three there’s a first Connacht start for loan signing Stephen Fitzgerald on the wing, with Cian Kelleher on the opposite wing and Darragh Leader at full-back.
Having beaten the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein before Christmas, Head Coach Andy Friend is under no illusions as to the challenge his side face to complete a double over their Conference rivals.
“Since we played them earlier in the season they have been improving steadily and have the results to show for it”, Friend reflected. “They are real contenders in the conference now, so we know the important of this game in the context of the overall season”.
“They are a really hard team to play against and even trying to review them can be difficult. They seem to play so off the cuff that it can be difficult to predict what they are going to do next. We know the threat they pose in attack so we will face a huge challenge”.
CONNACHT TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Toyota Cheetahs, Guinness PRO14, The Sportsground, Saturday February 16th, kick-off 5.30pm):
15. Darragh Leader 14. Cian Kelleher 13. Tom Farrell 12. Tom Daly 11. Stephen Fitzgerald
10. Jack Carty 9. Caolin Blade 1. Denis Buckley 2. Tom McCartney 3. Finlay Bealham 4. Ultan Dillane 5. James Cannon 6. Eoin McKeon 7. Colby Fainga’a 8. Jarrad Butler (Capt)
Replacements: 16. Dave Heffernan 17. Peter McCabe 18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Cillian Gallagher 20. Paul Boyle 21. Kieran Marmion 22. Conor Fitzgerald 23. Kyle Godwin

After a short break coinciding with the start of the Six Nations, the Connacht squad have returned to training to prepare for a crucial visit of the Toyota Cheetahs to The Sportsground on Saturday.
The Cheetahs are on an impressive run of form since our win over the side in Bloemfontein late last year and have emerged as strong contenders for a playoff spot in Conference A.
Check out some of the best pics from yesterday’s training at a damp Sportsground.

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game and can be purchased HERE.

Tickets are now available for two home games towards the latter stages of the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14.
On Saturday 16th February (k/o 5pm) we play host to the Cheetahs, and then two weeks later on Saturday 2nd March (k/o 2.45pm) the Ospreys pay a visit to the Sportsground.
Both Cheetahs and the Ospreys are in Conference A alongside Connacht, so the ties will go a long way to deciding the make-up of the final table. That means your support will be required more than ever.
Tickets are available HERE and for any queries please email [email protected]

Following the 23-15 win over the Toyota Cheetahs, Dave Heffernan gave his thoughts on the victory that makes it 4 from 4.



We return to the Sportsground in mid-December for the Challenge Cup clash against Brive.
Tickets are on sale now.


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