Connacht Rugby can confirm the following players will depart the club next month at the end of their respective contracts.
 
Tom McCartney has announced his retirement from rugby and has returned to New Zealand after six years with Connacht. The hooker has amassed 112 appearances for the province and started in the 2016 Guinness PRO12 Grand Final.
 
Fellow centurion and Connacht native Eoin McKeon departs Connacht having played 137 times since his debut in April 2010, and was also a member of the 2016 PRO12 winning team.
 
Back-three duo Niyi Adeolokun and Darragh Leader depart having also featured in the 2015/16 campaign, with the pair amassing 94 and 91 caps respectively.
 
Trio Kyle Godwin, David Horwitz and Joe Maksymiw have completed their two-year contracts after joining in the summer of 2018.
 
As previously announced, Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copeland will join French sides Lyon and Soyaux Angouleme respectively.
 
Finally front-rowers Rory Burke and Peter McCabe have completed their contracts, while Angus Lloyd departs to pursue a medical career – having passed his medical exams while under contract at Connacht.
 
Commenting on today’s announcement, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend says:
 
“The nature of professional rugby means there will always be comings and goings. I would personally like to wish all our departing players every success in the future and thank them for their contributions to Connacht Rugby, both on and off the field.
 
We all share in the players’ disappointment that they were unable to get a proper send-off at the Sportsground due to COVID, but they can be always assured of a warm welcome by the club and our supporters at any time in the future.”

Players and coaches from Connacht Rugby, in conjunction with Official Fuel Partner Top Oil, attended Rice College, Westport and Calasanctius College Oranmore recently to meet and inspire the next generation of rugby players and students within the school.
 
In Oranmore, Sean O’Brien made a welcome return to his alma mater Calasanticus College. He was joined by fellow senior professional players David Heffernan and Stephen Fitzgerald along with Club & Community Rugby Officer Morgan Codyre.
 
Coach Development Officer JP Walsh was joined by senior professional players David Horwitz and Tom McCartney on the pitch in Westport. Head Physiotherapist of Connacht Rugby Gareth Coughlan was also on hand to answer questions and provide expert insight on what it takes to prepare and maintain high level professional players.
 
The young students learned the importance of preparation and how a mix of hard work and commitment, rest and correct nutrition along with the ambition and belief to succeed can ensure high performance on and off the field.
 
Commenting on the initiative, Regional Manager for Top Oil Clíona Ní Murchú commented:
“As a family owned company with deep roots in our community we work hard to make a difference in the communities we serve. We are delighted that through our sponsorship of Connacht Rugby we can create special moments such as these to inspire the next generation. It was great to see so many boys participating in the training session and asking some really good questions during the Q&A.”
 
Connacht Rugby Sponsorship Manager Gavin Duffy commented:
“We have seen significant growth in participation across our school’s program over the last number of years. Top Oil are not only our Official Fuel Partner but also the sponsor of our Schools Cup competitions and their continued support over this period has been significant and greatly appreciated. Like Connacht Rugby, Top Oil are committed to making a positive impact across our communities and it is great to see this particular initiative of connecting todays professional players with the next generation of stars bringing our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts alive.”
 

 

 

Eoin Griffin is poised to make his 100th appearance in a Connacht jersey as he is named on the bench for the Guinness PRO14 clash with the Dragons in the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 5:15pm).

The Galway man made his Connacht debut in 2010 and is on his second term with the province having spent two campaigns with London Irish from 2014 to 2016. He returned to the Sportsground ahead of the 2016/17 season.

With Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham all away on international duty in Chicago, Head Coach Andy Friend is forced to make a number of changes to his starting team. He is however boosted by the availability of Kieran Marmion who starts at scrum-half as he prepares for the upcoming home November internationals.

Marmion has a new half-back partner with David Horwitz set to make his first start for the province at out-half. Kyle Godwin also comes into the midfield where he partners Tom Farrell.

In the back three there is a start for Colm De Buitléar on the wing, with Cian Kelleher on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

In the forwards, Conor Carey steps in for Finlay Bealham while James Cannon comes into the second row for Quinn Roux.

The only other change is in the back row where captain Jarrad Butler starts at number 8 with Colby Fainga’a slotting in at openside.

Eoin Griffin is joined on the bench by academy player Matthew Burke and summer arrival Joe Maksymiw who are both in line to make their Guinness PRO14 debuts for the province.

Commenting ahead of the game, Head Coach Andy Friend feels his players need to be capable of adapting to whatever is thrown at them; “We’ve got to be a team that can adapt. If we’re allowed to get the quick ball and play the way we want, we will threaten any side. If we can’t, whether that’s because of our ball carrying not being strong enough, or the ball not coming out because tacklers aren’t being removed, then we need to trust our defensive system. Our attack is potent enough if we get the ball we want, but if we can’t we have got to adapt”, Friend said ahead of the game.

Friend also praised experienced centre Eoin Griffin as he prepares his landmark achievement of 100thappearance with his home province, “Eoin Griffin is the ultimate professional rugby player, who is an example to every up and coming player in the province. It is fitting that he is making his 100th appearance in front of his home crowd. It is a significant milestone for him and his family and everyone in Connacht Rugby”, Friend said.  

 

Tickets for tomorrow’s game are still available and the best prices can be found online HERE

 

#CONvDRA

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Colm De Buitléar, David Horwitz, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conán O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Eoin Griffin.

Scrum-half Caolin Blade is set to captain Connacht for the first time as his side take on Sale in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

 

With Jack Carty rested after playing seven games in a row, Blade will form a half back partnership with Academy player Conor Fitzgerald who made his debut off the bench in the win over Bordeaux-Begles last weekend. Connemara man Colm De Buitléar is named on the wing in what will also be his first competitive start for his province.

 

The back line is also boosted by the return of centre Tom Farrell who forms a midfield partnership with Kyle Godwin. The versatile Godwin scored two tries in a Man of the Match performance on the wing in the opening round.

 

Tiernan O’Halloran also returns from injury to take his place at full back. He is part of a back three that includes twenty year old De Buitlear and Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.

 

In the forwards, the experienced Denis Buckley returns at loosehead alongside hooker Shane Delahunt and Conor Carey at tighthead. Behind them will be Irish international Ultan Dillane and James Cannon.

 

In the back row, Paul Boyle moves to blindside while openside Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copeland at number 8 are both retained.

 

Two more players are in line to make their Connacht debuts off the bench. Academy prop Matthew Burke is included in the matchday 23 while summer arrival David Horwitz is also in the squad for the first time, after the out-half made an appearance for the Connacht Eagles last weekend. The bench also includes scrum-half former Sale player James Mitchell, who could make an appearance against his former club.

 

 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend feels he has picked the right blend of youth and experience to challenge Sale: “Sale are an impressive side and they are top of the pool after the bonus point win away to Perpignan last weekend. We have picked a strong side. We have a few new players coming in who are there on merit and then we have a few more experienced guys coming back from injury. We have picked a side that we think can win the game and that is our intention going over to Sale”, Friend said.

 

“With ourselves and Sale both winning in the opening round, this game will have a big say in the final standings”, he added.

 

#SALvCON

 

Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Kyle Godwin, Colm De Buitléar, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (Capt), (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Matthew Burke, Conan O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Eoin Griffin.

 

The Connacht Eagles management team have named their side to face Ulster on Sunday in their final 2018/19 Celtic Cup clash at The Sportsground (k/0 3.30pm).

 

There’s a first start for summer signing David Horwitz who has recovered from injury to don the green of Connacht for the first time – he’s named at out-half alongside James Mitchell.

 

Elsewhere in the back-line there’s a new midfield pairing of Kieran Joyce and Sean O’Brien, with Conor Hayes drafted onto the wing and Hugh Lane and Darragh Leader completing the back three.

 

The front row consists of Matthew Burke, Jonny Murphy and Conor Kenny, with Kenny replacing Conán O’Donnell due to his involvement in the European Challenge Cup.

 

Also included in the Challenge Cup side is Joe Maksymiw meaning Iarlaith Laheen starts in the second row alongside Peter Claffey. There’s two further changes in the back row with Dylan Tierney and Cian Huxford coming into the side and Mikey Wilson alongside them.

 

Admission costs €10 for adults, €5 for students/seniors and free entry for Season Ticket holders.

 

CONNACHT EAGLES XV V ULSTER (SUNDAY OCTOBER 14TH @ 3.30PM)
(15-9) Darragh Leader, Conor Hayes, Seán O’Brien, Kieran Joyce, Hugh Lane, David Horwitz, James Mitchell.
(1-8) Matthew Burke, Jonny Murphy, Conor Kenny, Iarlaith Laheen, Peter Claffey, Mikey Wilson, Dylan Tierney, Cian Huxford.
Replacements: Liam Winnett, Jordan Duggan, Ryan Lomass, Stephen Kerins, Luke Carty, Conor Dean, Adi Donovan.

The Connacht management team have released the latest squad update in advance of tomorrow evening’s friendly away to Bristol Bears.

 

Hooker:
Tom McCartney (ankle) and Jonny Murphy (chest) are progressing well with their respective injuries and will integrate into team training next week.

Lock:
Peter Claffey has returned to full training this week following his calf injury.

Gavin Thornbury is progressing well with his shoulder injury sustained in pre-season and will integrate into team training next week.

Back Row:
Robin Copeland has returned to full training this week following his hip injury.

Jarrad Butler (chest), Eoin McKeon (shoulder) and Sean O’Brien (calf) are all being managed this week by the medical and performance team for minor knocks.

Eoghan Masterson has undergone surgery for the thumb injury he sustained in the Brive pre-season fixture and will be out of action until October.

Outhalf:
David Horwitz is undergoing rehabilitation for a hamstring injury and will look to return to training shortly.

Centre:
Peter Robb is managing a neck injury and will partake in light training this week under the supervision of the medical team.

The starting XV to face Bristol Bears will be named later today (Thursday).

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce the signing of 23-year-old out-half David Horwitz from Australian Super Rugby side the Rebels. Horwitz has previously been capped at out-half for Australia at U20 level in 2014 and for the Australian School Boys in 2011 and 2012.

Horwitz made the breakthrough in Super Rugby with the Waratahs during the 2017 season when he started all but one of their games and brought his total Super Rugby caps tally to 21 in the process. In addition to his experience as an out-half Horwitz has also played at inside centre where he has generally been deployed as a first receiver.

In 2015 Horwitz was awarded the Catchpole Medal after being voted the 2015 Intrust Shute Shield’s player of the year during his time with Randwick. In his 15 appearances that season he scored 86 points which included running in five tries.

Commenting on Connacht’s latest signing CEO of Connacht Rugby Willie Ruane said: “We are excited to announce the signing of out-half David Horwitz from the Rebels. David is a quality out-half who has also built up considerable experience at centre. His Super Rugby credentials are obvious having featured heavily for the Warathas last season. He will be another strong addition to Connacht and we look forward to his arrival next season.”

Commenting on his signing for Connacht, David Horwitz added: “I am really excited about my move to Connacht. I have enjoyed my time in Super Rugby and would like to thank the Rebels and their fans for my time there. Connacht are really ambitious about their plans for the future and I share that ambition and hope to contribute to bringing further success to the province. I am looking forward to focusing more on my favoured position of out-half with Connacht and joining my future team mates at the end of the current Super Rugby season.”

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