Following this afternoon’s team announcement for tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre, the Connacht management team have released the latest squad update:



Peter McCabe has a thigh injury and will be monitored by the medical and performance team this week.


Back Row:

James Connolly and Eoin McKeon are both rehabilitating from shoulder injuries and are a scheduled to return to play in late September/early October.

Robin Copeland (thigh) is progressing well in his rehabilitation and is due to return to training with the main squad next week.

Eoghan Masterson is continuing his rehabilitation following his thumb surgery and will be out of action until October.



David Horwitz is undergoing rehabilitation for a hamstring injury and will look to return to training in mid-September.

Back row Sean O’Brien and lock Gavin Thornbury have both returned from injury and are named in Andy Friend’s Connacht side to face Zebre in the Sportsground on Saturday in the Guinness PRO14 (Kick off 5:15pm).


Centre Eoin Griffin and lock Quinn Roux, who came off the bench last week, are the other two changes to the side that lost by the narrowest of margins to Glasgow in Round One. 


O’Brien comes into a back row that includes captain Jarrad Butler at openside and Academy player Paul Boyle who moves to Number 8 for his second start of the season. New signing Colby Fainga’a increases Connacht’s back row options as he is named among the replacements for the visit of the Italians. 


Caolin Blade and Jack Carty continue their half back partnership with returning Irish international Kieran Marmion also named on the bench. 


In form winger Cian Kelleher is named in a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. 


Announcing his team, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend spoke of the threat that Zebre bring; “We have picked a strong side again this week and I am satisfied that we are seeing some real competition in the squad. With the Eagles side playing Munster in the new Celtic Cup all of our available players will get game time this weekend”, Friend said.


“We are well aware of the challenge that Zebre pose. From what I have seen of them they are a big physical side who are well able to throw the ball around. We are expecting another big crowd in the Sportsground and a similar atmosphere to what we witnessed last weekend”, he added. 



Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Paul Boyle.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Conán O’Donnell, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun. 

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that free admission will be provided to under 16s for the Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm).


The tickets will be available subject to availability to juveniles, accompanied by adults, in accordance with stadium guidelines. The offer comes as part of the “Month of Champions” which sees the PRO14 champions of the past four seasons all in action in the Sportsground during the month of September.


Commenting on the offer, Head of Commercial and Marketing at Connacht Rugby, Brian Mahony said: “We have four big home games in the five weekends of September in the Sportsground. We are very conscious that to make all our home games during the month, will place a financial cost on fans, particularly families. That is why we have decided to provide this unique offering of free juvenile entry to the game against Zebre. We look forward to a big crowd for the game on Saturday in what promises to be another exciting game. We are also asking fans to claim their tickets early to avoid disappointment”.


The following terms and conditions apply:

  • To avail of this offer, you must purchase an Adult or Student/Senior Ticket from Connacht Rugby.
  • Existing Match and Season Ticket Holders must email [email protected] to receive free complimentary eTicket before Friday 7th at 1pm.
  • Maximum 4 kids per Adult Ticket.
  • Capacity restrictions apply – Tickets are only available for Bohermore Terrace and College Rd Terrace with limited availability in Main Terrace.
  • Kids Go Free tickets are not available for the Clan Terrace.

The Month of Champions continues this weekend as we welcome Zebre to the Sportsground.

Ahead of the game, backs coach Nigel Carolan spoke about the importance of getting the season’s first win and not taking the Italians lightly.

Don’t forget juniors under the age of 16 go FREE when accompanied by an adult! Tickets available here.

Prop Finlay Bealham is set to make his 100th appearance for Connacht as they host Zebre in the Sportsground on Friday (K.O 7:35pm). Kieran Keane’s Connacht side are aiming to make it eight home wins in a row in all competitions in a run that stretches back to September.

Bealham is one of four changes to Connacht’s starting XV from the side that beat Ospreys last week. With Tiernan O’Halloran sidelined with a hamstring injury, Darragh Leader comes in at full back to join a back three that includes wingers Cian Kelleher and Matt Healy.

Sean O’Brien’s return from injury is a further boost as he starts at number 8 after picking up a shoulder injury in the win over the Southern Kings in September. O’Brien will be joined in the back row by openside Naulia Dawai and blindside Eoghan Masterson who captains the side.

The only other change is the inclusion of lock Gavin Thornbury who came on as a substitute in the victory over Ospreys.

Keane has named a strong squad with Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion and Quinn Roux named among the replacements. Also named on the bench is John Muldoon and Conor Carey who continues his record of being named in every match day squad for Connacht so far this season.

Bealham is looking forward to leading the team out in front of a packed sportsground. Speaking to reporters ahead of the milestone game he said: ““To be in that bracket of players that have reached the 100 appearance milestone is something I’m really honoured to be a part of. From my family’s perspective, they’re really proud. To walk out there for the hundredth time in front of a Sportsground crowd in the great atmosphere they always create is something I’m really looking forward to”.



Kick-off 7.35pm:

(15-9) Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Craig Ronaldson, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson (Capt), Naulia Dawai, Sean O’Brien.

Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Pita Ahki.





The Connacht Medical Team have issued a Squad Update ahead of the Guinness PRO14 clash with Zebre in the Sportsground on Friday (Kick Off 7:35pm).


Denis Buckley progressing well in his recovery from ankle surgery and will return to training in the coming weeks.

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


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



Andrew Browne sustained a shoulder injury in the game versus Ospreys and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.


Back Row:
Jarrad Butler has returned to team training this week following his hand injury versus Worcester in January.

Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will return to team training in the coming weeks.

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


Peter Robb is continuing his rehabilitation from his recent hamstring injury and will return to training in the coming weeks..


Back Three:

Niyi Adeolokun has returned to team training this week following his hamstring injury versus Oyonnax in January.

Tiernan O’Halloran sustained a hamstring injury in the game versus Ospreys and will be out of action for a number of weeks.




The fixture details have been confirmed for Rounds 14-17 of the Guinness PRO14 Championship, which include a back-to-back double header at The Sportsground against Conference A rivals in February.


On Friday 9th February we host Ospreys in the first of two vital Conference A clashes. After a 7 day turn around, Michael Bradley’s Zebre will visit the Sportsground for a Friday night fixture.


The following weeks sees two significant away fixtures. First stop is Treviso where we will take on Benetton Rugby at the the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Saturday 24th March. The squad will travel from there to Bloemfontein in South Africa for the first time in the return fixture against the Toyota Cheetahs on Saturday 3rd March.



Friday 9th February, 7.35pm
Connacht v Ospreys

Friday 16th February, 7.35pm
Connacht v Zebre

Saturday 24th February, 1.00pm (12.00pm Irish Time)
Benetton Rugby v Connacht

Saturday 3rd March, 7.35pm (5.35pm Irish Time)
Toyota Cheetahs v Connacht


Ticket details for these fixtures will be announced soon.

Remember you can give the perfect gift this Christmas with the Connacht Christmas Cracker which includes access to all five home games in the new year.


Connacht secured a 10-try bonus point win over Zebre in round 5 of the Champions Cup. The 66 – 21 win keeps Connacht hopes alive of reaching the last eight of the competition ahead of a trip to Toulouse next Sunday.

While Matt Healy set the tone for the game with a try after one minute, Zebre showed their attacking strengths and got two tries in quick succession in the first quarter, each on the back of a solid scrum in the 22.

But Connacht found their rhythm and shape and the four-try bonus point was secured today after 27 minutes when Finlay Bealham scored from a five-metre rolling maul to add to earlier backline scores from Healy, John Cooney and Tiernan O’Halloran.

Kieran Marmion and Craig Ronaldson also crossed the whitewash before the break with Cooney, playing out of position at outhalf today, knocking over five from six conversions.

Half time: Connacht 40 – 14 Zebre  

Pat Lam’s man came out firing after the break and Healy and O’Halloran got over for a second try each within three minutes, Cooney converting on both occasions.

Zebre got over for a late consolation score on the hour mark but with Marmion and his replacement Caolin Blade adding to the tally, the game was out of reach.

Full time: Connacht 66 – 21 Zebre

Referee: Tom Foley (England)

Man of the Match: Tiernan O’Halloran

Attendance: 5, 607

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran (Danie Poolman ’57);  Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Craig Ronaldson (Tom Farrell ’42),   Matt Healy; John Cooney,   Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade ’54)

Denis Buckley (JP Cooney ‘37), Tom McCartney (Dave Heffernan ’46), Finlay Bealham (John Andress ’46); Lewis Stevenson,   James Cannon;  Sean O’Brien, Eoin McKeon, (James Connolly ’68), John Muldoon (Naulia Dawai ’46)

Zebre: Kurt Baker, Lloyd Greeff,   Edoardo Padovani,   Mattia Bellini, Guglielmo Palazzani;  Carlo Canna (Serafin Bordoli ’63), Marcello Violi (Carlo Engelbrecht ’70)

Andrea Lovotti (Andrea de Marchi ’55), Carlo Festuccia (Oliviero Fabiani ’46), Pietro Ceccarelli (Dario Chistolini ’59), Gideon Koegelenberg (Josh Furno ’46), Valerio Bernabo (Derick Minnie ’59). Maxime Mbanda, Johan Meyer (George Biagi ’74), Federico Ruzza.

Connacht Rugby Head Coach Pat Lam has named his match day 23 to face Zebre in Round 5 of the Champions Cup tomorrow afternoon at the Sportsground (kick off 1pm – live on SKY Sports).

There are five personnel changes in total from the team that lined out in the Guinness PRO12 last weekend with two in the backs and three in the pack.

Craig Ronaldson returns from injury to start at inside centre while John Cooney will play at outhalf for the first time in his career. The scrumhalf position is filled by the returning Irish international Kieran Marmion.

Up front, Lewis Stevenson comes in to start in the second row, having made ten appearances from the bench this season. The back row sees the return of captain John Muldoon, who missed out through injury last week. His fellow Galway-man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker, having reached the 100-cap milestone at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea last weekend.

James Connolly and Naulia Dawai are named among the replacement forwards. New centre Tom Farrell, who was added to the Connacht Rugby squad this week, is named in his first match day squad for the province in what will also be his Champions Cup debut if he is called upon.

Commenting on the upcoming game, Pat Lam said:

“We’re excited by the challenge that the Champion Cup presents to us and the opportunity to qualify for the last eight of the competition. First up, we have a big game against Zebre tomorrow and are fully focused on putting in a performance to get us the points we need.

“Zebre are determined to get their first win in Europe and we know what they are capable of on their day. We have the advantage of being at home in front of our supporters so it’s up to us to ensure we get the job done.”

Team to face Zebre (Champions Cup)

Saturday January 14th, kick off 13:00, the Sportsground   

(Connacht caps in brackets)

15           Tiernan O’Halloran (116)
14           Niyi Adeolokun (47)
13           Rory Parata (24)
12           Craig Ronaldson (56)
11           Matt Healy (82)
10           John Cooney (29)
9             Kieran Marmion (113)

1             Denis Buckley (106)
2             Tom McCartney (54)
3             Finlay Bealham (70)
4             Lewis Stevenson (10)
5             James Cannon (7)
6             Sean O’Brien (29)
7             Eoin McKeon (100)
8             John Muldoon (290) (captain)


16          Dave Heffernan (73)
17          JP Cooney (42)
18          John Andress (2)
19          James Connolly (21)
20          Naulia Dawai (4)
21          Caolin Blade (36)
22          Tom Farrell (0)
23           Danie Poolman (77)

Injured / Unavailable: Ronan Loughney, Conor Carey, Ivan Soroka, Conan O’Donnell, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Ben Marshall, Andrew Browne, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, Eoghan Masterson, Jack Carty, Marnitz Boshoff, Shane O’Leary, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili, Bundee Aki, Eoin Griffin, Cormac Brennan, Cian Kelleher, Darragh Leader.

Connacht Rugby v Zebre Rugby
Saturday, 14 January
Kick-off: 13:00
The Sportsground

Tickets available here

Referee: Tom Foley (Eng)
Assistant Ref: Ian Tempest (Eng)
Assistant Ref: Greg Garner (Eng)
TMO: Sean Davey (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: John Byett (Eng)

Pool 2: Connacht Rugby v Zebre Rugby

Saturday, 14 January, Kick-off: 13:00, The Sportsground

Tickets available here.

Referee: Tom Foley (Eng), Assistant Ref: Ian Tempest (Eng), Assistant Ref: Roger Baileff (Eng), TMO: Sean Davey (Eng), Citing Commissioner: John Byett (Eng)

Match facts

  • Connacht have won all five previous meetings with Zebre in the tournament including a 52-7 victory in Round 2.
  • Zebre are still searching for their first victory in the top flight (L16); the nearest they have come to winning so far was a five-point loss at The Sportsground in 2013.
  • A win would represent Connacht’s best pool stage performance in a Champions Cup campaign – they have never won four matches in a season.
  • Connacht have averaged the most metres gained (629) and the most clean breaks (15.5) per game this season while Zebre have averaged the fewest metres (215) and clean breaks (3.8).

Team comparison (European Cup record)

Connacht Rugby

Zebre Rugby













Total Points For



Total Points Against



Total Tries For



Total Tries Against




2016/17 Points Scorers                                                     Head-to-head record


Connacht Rugby


Zebre Rugby













Connacht Rugby:    



Jack Carty


Stacey Ili


Craig Ronaldson



Zebre Rugby:






Zebre Rugby


Connacht Rugby


Connacht Rugby


Zebre Rugby


Zebre Rugby


Connacht Rugby




Carlo Canna


Federico Ruzza


Tommaso D’Apice





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