The Connacht management team have made five changes to their starting XV for tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup interpro with Leinster at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm).
 
Captain Jarrad Butler will make his first appearance in nearly 2 months following suspension and injury – he comes straight into the starting XV. Denis Buckley comes into the front row for his 198th appearance, while Niall Murray starts in the second row. Conor Fitzgerald starts at no.10 following an impressive cameo off the bench against Ulster, while the man who scored the match-winning try in that game, Peter Sullivan, is also handed a starting berth on the wing.
 
There’s also a 150th appearance for Connacht’s record try scorer Matt Healy who is named on the opposite wing.
Buckley lines up alongside Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, while Gavin Thornbury completes the tight five. Butler starts at number 8 alongside flankers Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver.
 
Caolin Blade partners Conor Fitzgerald, while Tom Daly and Sean O’Brien play together at centre for the 5th straight game. With Healy and Sullivan on the wings, John Porch completes the side from full-back.
 
There’s also a welcome return among the replacements for Sammy Arnold, who hasn’t featured for four months since undergoing chest surgery.
 
Commenting on the team selection, Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“We had a great win last time out in Belfast, but as always this year it’s now about backing that up and getting some consistency going. Leinster will travel to The Sportsground wanting to avoid three defeats so that’s a challenge in itself, but we’re also confident we can put in a performance capable of getting a win.
We’ve got a few players returning from injury which is always good, and Matt Healy hits a significant milestone as well so we’re very pleased with the team we’re able to select.”

CONNACHT MATCHDAY 23 VS LEINSTER RUGBY
Saturday 8th April, The Sportsground, kick-off 7.35pm

Name/Number/Caps
15. John Porch (37)
14. Peter Sullivan (13)
13. Sean O’Brien (Acad) (8)
12. Tom Daly (45)
11. Matt Healy (149)
10. Conor Fitzgerald (33)
9. Caolin Blade (128)
1. Denis Buckley (197)
2. Dave Heffernan (141)
3. Finlay Bealham (156)
4. Niall Murray (14)
5. Gavin Thornbury (57)
6. Eoghan Masterson (108)
7. Conor Oliver (18)
8. Jarrad Butler (70) (C)

Replacements
16. Jonny Murphy (14)
17. Matthew Burke (21)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (64)
19. Cian Prendergast (6)
20. Abraham Papali’I (11)
21. Kieran Marmion (183)
22. Sammy Arnold (12)
23. Oran McNulty (1)

The Connacht Rugby squad gathered at The Sportsground on Tuesday kicking off their preparations for Saturday’s  Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup game against Leinster  (k/o 7.35pm).

Here’s a look at some of the best pics from Tuesday’s session…

 

 

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.
 
FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
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.

FIND YOUR MATCH TICKETS HERE
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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