Ireland internationals Jack Carty and Bundee Aki are both named in the Connacht matchday squad to face Leinster in the Sportsground on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
 
Carty comes straight back into the side at out half while Aki is named among the replacements for the first interpro clash of the season.
 
Carty plays his first game since Ireland’s win over Russia in the World Cup and he forms a half back partnership with Caolin Blade. At midfield, Peter Robb is retained after his recent outstanding performances and he will be partnered by Tom Farrell.
 
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Elsewhere in the back line Stephen Fitzgerald comes in on the wing with Darragh Leader at full back and the in-form Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.
 
Up front, there is a highly experienced front row with Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham filling the loosehead and tighthead spots respectively and Tom McCartney named at hooker.
 
In the second row, Sligo man Cillian Gallagher comes in for his first start of the season alongside Joe Maksymiw. The back row has a familiar look to it with flankers Eoghan Masterson and Jarrad Butler lining up alongside Paul Boyle at number 8.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We are happy with the start we have made in the PRO14 with four wins in a row. What is even more satisfying is the depth we have already displayed, with 35 players already used in the opening five games. With Jack Carty, Bundee Aki and Sean O’Brien all coming back in this week, that number will hopefully go to 38”.
 
“We obviously face another huge challenge this weekend against Leinster but our challenge is to just maintain the consistency we have seen over the past few weeks both at home and away. We take huge pride in our home record, with just one loss in thirteen games and we expect a massive crowd again on Friday night”, he added.
 

Connacht Matchday Squad V Leinster (Fri 8 NOV, 7:35 PM)

(15-9): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Stephen Fitzgerald, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Cillian Gallagher, Joe Maksymiw, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin.

The first interprovincial derby of the season is almost upon us, and what a way to start.
 
Reigning Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster visit The Sportsground, in a widely anticipated game between two of the Championship’s in-form sides.
 
Here’s everything you need to know about the tie.
 
When’s the game?

Kick-off at the Sportsground is at 7.35pm on Friday 8th November – our first Friday night fixture of the campaign.
 
What’s the state of play so far?

Leinster sit top of Conference A with 5 wins from 5, while after a disappointing opening loss to Scarlets, Connacht have hit back with 4 wins in a row. Those victories have propelled Andy Friend’s side up to 2nd place in Conference B, just one point behind Munster.
 
How’s our recent record against them?

Connacht have won 3 of the last 5 games between the two sides in Galway, most recently the famous 47-10 victory in John Muldoon’s last game with the province 18 months ago. Leinster got the better of the the two teams in their last game at The Sportsground, coming up on top 3-20 last season.
 
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 connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.
 
Are tickets still available?

Yes but you need to be quick! As with every interpro game tickets are very sought after so the sooner you book the better.

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What if I can’t make the game?

TG4 will have live coverage, and if you can’t get to a TV then Galway Bay FM will have you covered with live 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.
 

 
Anything else I should know?

Please note that NO SMOKING is allowed in any of our stands at The Sportsground. Thank you for your co-operation.

Connacht Rugby have announced that additional temporary terracing is to be installed in the Sportsground to meet the high level of ticket demand for the interprovincial clashes against Ulster and Munster over the Christmas and New Year period.
 
Connacht take on Ulster on Friday December 28th at 7:35pm and Munster on Saturday 5th January, also kicking off at 7:35pm.
 
The additional terracing can increase the total capacity in excess of 8,000 spectators.
 
Making the announcement, Communications Manager for Connacht Rugby, Brendan Loughnane said: “There is always a high demand for tickets for the interprovincial games and another surge for the Christmas fixtures so when the two events coincide we need to increase capacity to meet that demand. With Clan Stand and Main Stand Tickets already sold out for both fixtures, we are installing additional terracing at the College Road and Bohermore Ends. Tickets for the additional terracing are available to purchase immediately through connachtrugby.ie/tickets so we advise people to purchase early to secure tickets. This season we also have a special offering for a three match pack which is proving extremely popular as a Christmas gift.
 
The announcement of the additional terracing comes a day after Connacht Rugby confirmed they have formally submitted a planning application to Galway City Council for the redevelopment of the Sportsground. The redevelopment will involve a €30m investment in a 12,000 capacity Stadium and High performance Training Centre.
 

 

Mayo native Dave Heffernan is set to captain Connacht as they host Leinster in the first interpro of the season in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm).

Heffernan takes over the captaincy from Jarrad Butler who is ruled out through injury. Heffernan’s inclusion at hooker sees him continue as part of a front trio that includes props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham.

Butler’s replacement at openside Colby Fainga’a makes his first start for Connacht who, along with lock Ultan Dillane, are the only changes to the team that beat Scarlets last weekend. Fainga’a comes into a back row alongside blindside Sean O’Brien and Robin Copeland at number 8.

In the second row Dillane’s inclusion sees him form a familiar partnership with Quinn Roux.

Among the backs, Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty continue the half-back partnership, as do Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell in midfield.

Wingers Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher are also retained, as is Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.

Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We were really happy with the win against Scarlets last weekend and that needs to become our baseline and the standard that we have to meet consistently. Leinster are an outstanding side and deserving European and PRO14 champions so it’s a huge challenge. We will need to raise our standards another notch if we are to compete with them. So that’s the challenge and we are really looking forward to it”, Friend said.

“This is obviously a massive occasion for our supporters. They have been fantastic so far this season and the players have really responded to their support. The Sportsground will be packed and even with our additional terracing it will be a sell-out. That is hugely encouraging. The people of the province are behind us and we want to deliver a performance for them on Saturday”, he added.

 

#CONvLEI

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8)Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan (C), Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.

 

Connacht Rugby can now confirm that the College Road Terrace has now SOLD OUT for Saturday’s Month Of Champions finale with Leinster in the Guinness PRO14.

That means the Clan Stand, Main Stand, Grant Thornton Stand, Enclosure and now the College Road Terrace are all now sold out for the eagerly awaited tie.

Only a very limited number of tickets in the Bohermore Road Terrace remain – and with the game expected to be a complete sell-out we’d encourage all Connacht fans to secure their ticket now if they’ve so far failed to do so.

Tickets can be purchased HERE for what’s set to be a thrilling finale to a thrilling month!

The Month of Champions is set for a fitting climax this weekend when we play host to reigning Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster in the first interpro of the 2018/19 season.

The game is our fourth home tie of the month – beginning with that narrow defeat against Glasgow but followed up with a bonus point win over Zebre and last Saturday’s impressive 33-20 victory over last year’s finalists Scarlets.

Here’s all you need to know about what’s bound to be another Sportsground thriller.

 

When’s the game?

Kick-off is this Saturday 29th September at 5.15pm at The Sportsground.

 

How have Leinster fared in the Guinness PRO14 so far?

With 16 points from a possible 20, Leinster sit on the summit of Conference B after three wins from four. They began their campaign with a last gasp 33-32 win in Cardiff before a narrow 2 point loss in Wales against Scarlets. Since then they’ve enjoyed back-to-back home bonus point wins against Dragons and Edinburgh respectively.

 

How’s our recent record against them?

The game comes just over 5 months since our last meeting – a memorable 47-10 victory at The Sportsground on the final day of the 2017/18 season. It came at the end of a difficult campaign for Connacht, but a brilliant performance ensured long-time servants John Muldoon and Andrew Browne were able to leave the province on a high.

 

 

Over the past five years it’s Connacht who’ve enjoyed the better record when the two sides clash in Galway. Connacht have come out on top on three occasions (14/15, 15/16 and 17/18) with Leinster coming away with the win in our 2013/14 and 2016/17 meetings.

 

Who are the Leinster players to look out for?

As reigning PRO14 and Champions Cup holder, Leinster’s squad is understandably littered with plenty of Irish internationals. The pack features the likes of Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Devin Toner and Josh van der Flier, while backs Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose and Jordan Larmour could also feature.

 

When will the Connacht team be announced?

The team will be announced at midday on Friday on the Connacht Rugby social media channels.

 

Where can I buy tickets?

Tickets are on sale now at connachtrugby.ie/tickets. Please note that due to increased demand we have installed additional terracing at the Bohermore and College Road Ends, and these are the only two areas of the ground where tickets are still publically available. The Main Stand, the Enclosure and Grant Thornton Stand are all SOLD OUT. If you wish to experience the game in the Clan Stand, a limited number of premium hospitality tickets remain on sale at a cost of €140.

We expect a huge amount of interest as the week progresses so the sooner you secure your ticket the better!

 

Connacht v Leinster

 

 

The Connacht management have released the following squad update ahead of Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Leinster at The Sportsground.

Prop:
JP Cooney is recovering from hamstring surgery and will be out of action until May.

Hooker:
Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the medical and performance team.

Lock:
Andrew Browne will integrate fully into training this week as he returns from his shoulder injury.

Back Row:
Sean O’Brien is continuing his return to training following his head injury against Ospreys.

Jake Heenan is continuing his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and will be out of action until late April.

Centre:
Peter Robb sustained a fracture to his hand in the game versus Glasgow and will miss the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

Back Three:
Rory Scholes is progressing well following his ankle injury and will return to action in late April / early May.

Cian Kelleher is progressing well following his ankle surgery last month and will be out of action until May.

15 years, 326 games, but every journey sadly must come to an end…

#ThanksMul

 

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On Saturday 28th April we say thank you to a man whose legacy stretches far beyond his achievements on the field. Over the past 15 years John Muldoon has worn the green of Connacht 326 times. For the visit of Leinster in our final game of the season, that becomes 327.

 

17 years. 320 games. Broken bones. Big wins. Bad losses. Dozens of teammates. Fewer coaches. Europe. Russia. Celtic league. Pro12. Pro14. Flights. Buses. Friends. Supporters. I’ve been so proud to be part of it all, but every journey sadly must come to an end and for me that end will be this season. Thank you all for your endless support.

A post shared by @ johnmuldoon8 on

 

Click on the link below to make sure you’re there for what’s bound to be a special and at times emotional occasion.

#ThanksMul

Thanks Mul

Connacht 24-37 Leinster

Connacht fell to a tough defeat at a packed-out Sportsground on Saturday night in a thrilling encounter that saw clinical Leinster take the spoils and book a home Guinness PRO12 semi-final.

With John Muldoon – on his landmark 300th Connacht appearance – leading manfully from the front, Connacht played some scintillating rugby but Leinster were absolutely clinical on the night and took every chance that came their way.

Some ferocious early tackles from Connacht and Kieran Marmion helped to force an early penalty with Ronaldson slotting the long-ranger to make it 3-0 within two minutes.

Leinster responded well and were off the mark before the seventh minute as winger Adam Byrne showed great hands to pop a pass inside for Zane Kirchner to touch down in the right corner.

Byrne soon touched down himself on 10 minutes as he pounced on a Ronaldson pass to run in an intercept try from 60 metres. Ross Byrne knocked over the easy conversion and Leinster led 12-3.

This time, it was Connacht’s turn to muster a riposte, and when Denis Buckley forced the penalty, Ronaldson made no mistake to narrow the deficit to six.

An electric Tiernan O’Halloran break down the right wing then set Connacht up for another attack and an impeccable crossfield kick from Jack Carty found Danie Poolman on the left flank and the winger ran in under the posts for a magnificent try with Ronaldson’s extras giving Connacht a 13-12 lead.

That advantage didn’t last long, however, as Ross Byrne’s first penalty for Leinster moved the visitors back in front on 22 minutes.

A third penalty for Ronaldson on the half hour made it 16-15 to Connacht but Leinster crossed via a Rory O’Loughlin try in the left corner following Luke McGrath’s break as Leinster moved 20-16 in front.

Connacht had the last word of a breathless first half with Ronaldson slotting his third penalty to narrow the deficit to just a single point at the interval, 20-19.

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An incredible break and offload from O’Halloran set up Connacht’s second try after the interval with Carty eventually floating a pass out to Dave Heffernan on the left wing and the hooker had the wheels to cross to move Connacht into a 24-20 lead with half an hour remaining.

Within three minutes, Leinster scored their fourth try as captain Rhys Ruddock touched down from close range and Ross Byrne landed the tricky conversion as the visitors went 26-24 in front.

As Connacht pushed for the next score, they were hit by a sucker punch as Barry Daly hacked a loose pass clear and the ball bounced up perfectly for the replacement to score under the posts with Ross Byrne’s conversion giving Leinster a 10-point advantage.

And a second penalty from Ross Byrne on 76 minutes sealed the win for Leinster.

The home support roared Connacht on throughout and gave Muldoon a hearty reception at full-time as he was presented with a special plaque by Connacht President Pat Piggott to make the incredible achievement of playing 300 games for his home province.

There is still time to get your Early Bird Season Tickets for the 2017/18 season with big savings to be made, book your spot for next season here.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun (Eoin Griffin, 10), Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Danie Poolman; Jack Carty (Steve Crosbie, 70), Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade 36-40, 73); Denis Buckley (JP Cooney, 70), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt, 64), Finlay Bealham (Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 70); Quinn Roux (Sean O’Brien, 21), Andrew Browne; Eoin McKeon (Naulia Dawai, h-t), Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (C).

Leinster: Zane Kirchner; Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Noel Reid, Dave Kearney; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath; Cian Healy, James Tracy, Mike Ross; Ross Molony, Hayden Triggs; Dominic Ryan, Josh van der Flier, Rhys Ruddock (C).

Replacements: Seán Cronin, Peter Dooley, Michael Bent, Ian Nagle, Peadar Timmins, Nick McCarthy, Tom Daly, Barry Daly.

Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)

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