Speaking after the emphatic win over Oyonnax in the Sportsground Kieran Keane said the frustration from last weekend’s draw with Worcester had motivated his side to register 8 tries in Saturday afternoon’s 50-14 win.

The bonus-point win over the Top14 outfit guarantees a home Challenge Cup quarter-final against Gloucester in late March.

“The failure to win last weekend hit a nerve with the boys” said Keane after the game in reference to the draw in Worcester. “It certainly hit a nerve with some of us.”

“We were determined to come out and get off to a good start this week and we certainly managed that” added hooker David Heffernan.

The blistering start saw Connacht bag six tries in the first half, including a hat-trick for Niyi Adeolukun and one each for Tiernan O’Halloran, Bundee Aki and Matt Healy, on the occasion of his 100th cap for Connacht. They were added to after the interval by substitute Tom Farrell and captain John Muldoon.

The home side were in for their first try within 20 seconds of the kick-off as Adeolokun capitalised on an Oyonnax spill to cross over. He touched down again five minutes later and completed his hat-trick in the 31st minute, by which stage both Aki and O’Halloran had already grabbed tries and Healy, who led his side out for the match as he reached his century, cut in for another to give Connacht a 36-14 half-time advantage.

“The continuity of our game in European competition has allowed us to develop and has given us a bit of confidence and belief. And the ambition we’ve been seeking, it’s been a good platform for us to achieve that,” said Keane.

“It’s allowed us to develop that confidence and rotate players, to give everyone a good feel for what we’re trying to do. And it’s allowed us to put a little bit of polish on that aspect of continuity.”

Connacht now have a three-week break before the visit of the Ospreys in the Pro14 on February 9, and the Head Coach said the break will allow the squad to recover some of their walking wounded before the final stretch of the campaign.

“I think we’ve done well, but we’ve got a few knocks and a few bangs. We’ve lost a couple of props and asked another couple of props to step up. I think the break has come pretty much at the right time for us,” said he.

The Challenge Cup quarter-final will take place on the weekend of March 30-April 1 at the Sportsground. Although there are still some big name teams left in the competition, Keane was confident when asked if he thought Connacht could go all the way in the competition.

“Yeah, sure. I think the boys do too. It’s a challenge for us. It’s nice to be a part of it. We’ve had some disappointing results and we’ve thrown a few fixtures in the Pro14 away, dare I say it. We’re disappointed about that aspect but we have to look at the positives. This offers us an opportunity to perhaps get some silverware” he offered.

Heffernan agreed, stating that Connacht won’t worry unduly about the identity of their last-eight opponents and looking forward to what promises to be a terrific atmosphere in the Sportsground.

“It’ll be unbelievable. The last time we played Glasgow in the knockout stages (the 2016 Pro12 semi-final) was incredible, so if it’s anything close to that it’ll be unbelievable. The fans that day were something else, so we’d hope for the same again,” said the Ballina man.

Heffernan had an excellent hour’s work in Connacht’s front row on Saturday and said that he was delighted to be back in action after some time out of the team.

“It’s been really good to get back for the last few weeks. I was disappointed with a couple of games at the start of the year and I hadn’t been in the team for a while, so to get back in the team has been really good. There’s serious competition there at hooker so any time you get on the pitch you have to take that opportunity,” he said.

 

 

 

We finished our Challenge Cup Pool 5 campaign with an unbeaten record as Niyi Adeolokun scored a first-half hat-trick at The Sportsground.

 

The rout began in the very first minute as Adeolokun scored his first try after a chip over the top. Two minutes later, he went over for his second after a brilliant offload by Tiernan O’Halloran.

 

 

Two more tries were added before the 20th minute through Bundee Aki and O’Halloran. Great handling from the backs set up Adeolokun for his hat-trick on just 31 minutes and Matt Healy added a sixth two minutes later on his 100th appearance for the club. It was Healy’s 8th in the competition this season.

 

The second half was a quieter affair. Tom Farrell crossed the whitewash after 66 minutes and a penalty try five minutes from the end brought up the half century.

 

We have now won our last six home games in all competitions and finish Pool 5 unbeaten.

 

 

 

Centurion Matt Heally gives his thoughts following an 8 try victory over Oyonnax which guarantees a home quarter final in the Challenge Cup. Healy added to his own European tally with a first half try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Healy is set to make his 100th appearance for Connacht in the final Pool 5 game of the Challenge Cup at home to Oyonnax on Saturday (Kick off 2:30pm). Healy has been in fantastic form scoring 8 tries already this season and becoming Connacht’s overall top try scorer in European competition.

Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion, Quinn Roux and Bundee Aki who were all named in the Irish Six Nations Squad during the week, are all included in the starting XV.

Healy’s return on the wing is the only change to the back three, with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. In the pack the only change to last week’s side is the inclusion of flanker Naulia Dawai. He in joined in the back row by blindside Eoghan Masterson and Captain John Muldoon at number.

Having secured a home quarter final spot with the draw against Worcester, a win over Oyonnax will ensure that quarter final will be played in front of a packed Sportsground.

Speaking ahead of the game, backs coach Nigel Carolan is taking nothing for granted against the French Top 14 side. “We know Oyonnax are a physical outfit, they have serious players, and whatever side they send over, whether frontline or second, they are still registered players, and we have to deal with everything they throw at us”, said Carolan.

“We have a good record at home and we are looking forward to playing in front of a noisy crowd and our guys get a real kick from it – the last game was Ulster and that ended positively, and before that Brive, which was a polished performance and we expect that again on Saturday. Certainly, we are going to go at it from the start”, he added.

 

#CONvUSO

Kick-off 2:30pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Naulia Dawai, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher.

 

 

 

Ahead of the finale of Pool 5, our medical team have released the following squad update.

 

Prop:
Finlay Bealham sustained a knee injury in training last week and will rehabilitate under the supervision of the medical and performance team over the coming weeks.

Denis Buckley is continuing his rehabilitation from recent ankle surgery and will be out of action until February.

JP Cooney is recovering from hamstring surgery and will be out of action until April.

 

Hooker:
Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the medical and performance team and will return to action in mid February.

 

Lock:
James Cannon has reintegrated into full training this week following his shoulder injury versus Munster.

Andrew Browne has had a minor setback in his rehabilitation and is aiming to return to training in February.

 

Back Row:
James Connolly played for the Eagles last weekend with no ill effects from his recent calf injury.

Jarrad Butler fractured his hand in the game versus Worcester and will be out of action until February.

Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will return to team training in early February.

Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery and will return to team training in early February.

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

 

Outhalf:
Steve Crosbie will be out of action until the end of January with a knee injury.

 

Centre:
Peter Robb sustained a hamstring injury in training last week and will be out of action for up to a month.

 

Back Three:
Cian Kelleher played versus Worcester with no ill effects from his recent head injury.

Stacey Ili sustained a head injury whilst playing for the Eagles last weekend and will follow return to play protocols.

Cormac Brennan returned to team training this week following his shoulder injury.

 

 

 

Related

Sale Away Fan Guide

Irish internationals return to Connacht squad for Southern Kings tie
DHeffernan

Irish internationals return to Connacht squad for Southern Kings tie

6 months ago
Powerful Connacht performance secures bonus point win over conference rivals Cardiff
DHeffernan

Powerful Connacht performance secures bonus point win over conference rivals Cardiff

6 months ago
Six Nations break sees Dillane and Heffernan return for Connacht
CONvCAR

Six Nations break sees Dillane and Heffernan return for Connacht

6 months ago