There’s a strong Connacht contingent in the Ireland squad for the return of the Guinness Six Nations later this month.
 
Six players from the province are named in Andy Farrell’s 35 player squad, with Bundee Aki and Dave Heffernan retaining their place after they were named in the initial Six Nations squad before the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
There’s also a return to the Ireland setup for Finlay Bealham, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion and Quinn Roux with the quartet showing some impressive form since the return of rugby.
 
The squad which will be captained by Johnny Sexton contains six uncapped players – Ryan Baird, Ed Byrne, Will Connors, Shane Daly, Hugo Keenan and Jamison Gibson Park. While Baird and Connors have been involved in national camps before it will be a first time with the national squad for the other uncapped players.
 
In addition Harry Byrne, Craig Casey, James Lowe, James Tracy and Fineen Wycherley will train with the squad next week at IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin. Ireland take on Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 24th October before facing France in Paris the following Saturday (31st).
 
Ireland currently sit fourth on the Six Nations table one point behind Scotland and 4 points behind England and France who have all played an extra game. Back in February Ireland recorded wins over Scotland (19-12) and Wales (24-12) before losing to England (12-24) at Twickenham.
 
Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell commented, “There has been a huge effort right across Irish Rugby to ensure that the professional game could return safely and that work is greatly appreciated by the national management. We have protocols in place to safeguard the welfare of the players and staff and are looking forward to completing the Six Nations Championships.
 
We have two competitions to play in over the coming months but will focus first on a strong finish to the 6 Nations Championships. The return to rugby has not been without its challenges as some players have suffered injury setbacks and there has been limited playing opportunities ahead of a busy and exciting international window. We will be closely monitoring the form and fitness of players competing in the Guinness PRO14 over the coming weeks.

 
Ireland Squad 2020 Guinness 6 Nations Championships Round 4 & 5
 
Backs (16)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 26 caps
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
Jack Carty (Connacht/Buccaneers) 10 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 21 caps
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Con) uncapped
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 9 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 43 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 24 caps
Kieran Marmion (Connacht/Corinthians) 27 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 3 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 81 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 91 caps CAPTAIN
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 28 caps
 
Forwards (19)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) uncapped
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Corinthians) 9 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 17 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 98 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 1 cap
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 55 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 11 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 3 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 67 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
Quinn Roux (Connacht/Galwegians) 12 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 21 caps
CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 41 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
 
Training with Squad w/c 12th October
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) uncapped
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) uncapped
James Lowe (Leinster) uncapped
James Tracy (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
Fineen Wycherley (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped

Following the end of week 4 of pre-season training, the Connacht management team have issued the following squad update.
 
Jonny Murphy (head), Matthew Burke (thigh), Finlay Bealham (ankle), Kieran Marmion (ankle), Tom Farrell (shoulder) and Matt Healy (ankle) have all returned to team training follow injuries they sustained prior to the postponement of fixtures.
 
Oisin Dowling (back) is undergoing a period of rehabilitation for a long term back injury and will integrate into team training towards the end of August
 
Quinn Roux (hand) is continuing his rehabilitation from a recent surgery on his hand and will integrate into team training towards the end of August
 
Sean O’Brien (foot) is progressing his rehabilitation and will integrate into team training in early September.
 
Peter Robb (thigh) is recovering from a hamstring injury and will integrate into team training towards the middle of August
 
Stephen Fitzgerald (knee) is continuing his rehabilitation from knee surgery earlier this year and will integrate into team training in early October.

The Ireland coaching team have named a 44 strong training squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup pre-season and preparatory camps which commence in mid-June.
 
Over the course of the pre-season period the squad will hold camps in Galway and Limerick as well as their usual base in Maynooth. Open sessions are planned for both the Sportsground in Galway and Thomond Park in Limerick. Details of the open sessions will be announced in due course.
 
Ireland will play at the Aviva Stadium in two Guinness Summer Series fixtures firstly against Italy (August 10th) and then Wales (September 7th). Ireland will also face off against England in Twickenham (August 24th) and Wales at the Principality Stadium (August 31st).
 
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt, commented, “The provinces have done a great job throughout the season with all four of them being involved in two sets of playoffs.
 
There were some very close calls in selection and it’s always a challenging process because the coaching group are very conscious of how hard the players work. It’s ideal that they get a good opportunity to relax for a few weeks before getting stuck into pre-season training and the busy ‘Guinness Series’ in the lead up to the World Cup.
 
Some players have missed out through injury and there are one or two guys that may be added into the squad at a later stage.”
 
Ireland Training Squad Rugby World Cup Pre-Season
Forwards (24)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 9 caps
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 5 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps
Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 14 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 88 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 44 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 7 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 0 caps
Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 54 caps
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 27 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 14 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Lansdowne/Leinster) 21 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 18 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 14 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 64 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
 
Backs (20)
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 18 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 12 caps
John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Mike Haley (Munster) 0 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 13 caps
Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 25 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 10 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 20 caps
Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 3 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps
 
Unavailable due to injury
Dan Leavy (Leinster)
Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
 
Guinness Summer Series 2019 Fixtures
IRELAND v Italy
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 10th August, KO 2.00pm
(Live Coverage: RTE & Channel 4)

England v IRELAND
Twickenham Stadium, Saturday 24th August, KO 3.00pm
(Live Coverage: Sky)

Wales v IRELAND
Principality Stadium, Saturday 31st August, KO 2.30pm
(Live Coverage: Channel 4)

IRELAND v Wales
Aviva Stadium, Saturday 7th September, KO 2.00pm
(Live Coverage: RTE & Channel 4)

The Connacht squad have made the short trip to Scotland this afternoon as they get set to meet the Glasgow Warriors in another important inter-conference clash in the Guinness PRO14.
 
The game is a meeting of 2nd versus 3rd in Conference A after Glasgow and Connacht came away with wins over Cardiff and the Cheetahs respectively last weekend.
 
Ahead of the game we got the quick thoughts of prop Finlay Bealham and back row Paul Boyle about these block of fixtures and the challenge facing the squad in Scotstoun tomorrow night.
 

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made a total of ten changes to the side that won away to Perpignan in the European Challenge Cup last weekend, as Connacht take on Leinster in the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 7:45pm).
 
Included in the starting side are internationals Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane as Bundee Aki is named among the replacements.
 
Bealham comes back into a front row that sees Denis Buckley returning at loosehead and Tom McCartney retained at hooker. In the second row Dillane will line up alongside Gavin Thornbury with James Cannon named among the replacements.
 
Captain Jarrad Butler comes back into the side at blindside alongside Colby Fainga’a and Paul Boyle at number 8.
 
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade renew their half-back partnership, while the back three sees Darragh Leader come in for Matt Healy who picked up a knock in training during the week, with Cian Kelleher named on the opposite wing with Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. The midfield pairing of Tom Farrell and Kyle Godwin completes the side.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Head Coach Andy Friend says his side face a big challenge in the RDS: “We have gone through a really good run with five wins in row, with real competition emerging in the squad. The win away in France last weekend keeps the confidence levels up and keeps that momentum going in the squad and throughout the organisation. We face a big challenge away to Leinster on Saturday. We know the depth they have and the quality in their squad so we will need a huge performance to challenge them especially when they are at home”, Friend said.
 
However, Friend says that his side are hugely looking forward to the challenge; “Everyone wants to play against the top sides and see how they perform. We will play our game and implement our game plan and we will know where we are as we go into the new year. We have a huge series of games, with three interpros over the Christmas and New Year period so these three fixtures will be a huge test for our squad”.
 
#LEIvCON
 
Kick-off 7:45pm:
 
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Colby Fainga’a, Paul Boyle.
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Bundee Aki.

Connacht are boosted by the return of Irish internationals Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux for the European Challenge Cup clash with Perpignan in The Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Aki forms a midfield partnership with 22 year old Academy player Kieran Joyce who is set to make his Connacht debut.

Bealham’s return to the front row sees him line up alongside hooker Dave Heffernan who captains the side and loosehead Peter McCabe. With three appearances off the bench so far this season, lock Joe Maksymiw comes in for his first start alongside the experienced Quinn Roux.

In the back row, Eoghan Masterson has returned from an injury which has kept him out of action so far this season and is named at blindside. Colby Fainga’a starts at openside having impressed in the back-to-back wins on the tour to South Africa.

There is a new half-back pairing as David Horwitz is named at out-half alongside James Mitchell at scrum-half.

In the back three, Darragh Leader comes in at full-back while Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher occupy the wings.

Head Coach Andy Friend feels he has the right balance of youth and experience to challenge the Top 14 side; “It is great to have three of our internationals back in the side. Bundee, Finlay and Quinn are hugely experienced, and it is important to have them back. But we also have a few new faces who are getting their chance to shine. Joe Maksymiw has made a few appearances off the bench and comes in for his first start and Kieran Joyce from our Academy partners Bundee in midfield. They have proven in training that they are ready for the step up and I have every confidence in them”, Friend said.

Friend also says that these back-to-back clashes against Perpignan will have a huge say in Connacht’s progress in the Challenge Cup; “These two games will tell a lot. We have won one and lost one so far so these back-to-back games will have a huge say in where we stand in this competition. The mood in the squad is hugely positive. We are seeing some really strong competition developing for places and that is important. We want to take our good form into the Challenge Cup especially in front of our home crowd”.

#CHEvPER

Kick-off 3pm:
(15-9) Darragh Leader, Cian Kelleher, Kieran Joyce, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, David Horwitz, James Mitchell, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan (Capt), Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, James Connolly, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Kyle Godwin.

 

There are still tickets available for the game with some areas selling fast.

 

GET PERPIGNAN TICKETS HERE - LIMITED AVAILABILTY!

Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux have both been named in the Ireland matchday 23 for Saturday’s final November international against the USA.
 
Bealham has been named at tighthead prop after an impressive showing off the bench against Italy in Chicago, while Roux is in line for an appearance as a replacement.
 
Head coach Joe Schmidt has made 14 changes from the side that started last weekend’s memorable win over the All Blacks, with Garry Ringrose the sole survivor from that game.
 
IRELAND Team & Replacements (v USA, 2018 GUINNESS Series Test Match, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, November 24, kick-off 6.30pm):
 
Player/Club/Province/Caps –
 
15. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 2
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 8
13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 16
12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 2
11. Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) 2
10. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 15
9. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 3
1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 23
2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 10
3. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 8
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 3
5. Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 41
6. Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 20 captain
7. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 25
8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 10
 
Replacements
16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 6
17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 83
18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 15
19. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 7
20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 12
21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 9
22. Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 1
23. Sam Arnold (Garryowen/Munster) *

Kieran Marmion, Bundee Aki, Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham were among the Irish players who trained at Carton House today ahead of Saturday’s huge November international against the All Blacks.
 
Marmion and Aki both put in try-scoring performances in Ireland’s win over Argentina last weekend, while Roux and Bealham along with Aki all featured heavily in the victory over Italy in Chicago one week earlier.
 
Take a look at some of the pics of the players in training earlier:
 

Irish international and Connacht prop Finlay Bealham has signed a two year contract extension that will keep him at the Sportsground until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Bealham who has been capped seven times for Ireland, was this week named in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the upcoming November internationals.

He joined the Connacht Academy in the 2012-13 season and went on to make his Connacht senior debut in 2014. He has since made 113 appearances for the province and was a central figure in Connacht’s PRO12 win in 2016.

Commenting on the contract extension, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “Finlay will be central to our ambitions for the coming seasons. He is in excellent form this season and it is great to see that form been rewarded with inclusion in the Ireland squad this week. He is an outstanding scrummager and we are delighted that he has signed a contract extension for another two seasons.”

Following his contract signing, Finlay Bealham added: “I am hugely grateful to everyone in Connacht for the opportunities given to me to develop as a player and progress from the Connacht Academy programme to being part of the senior side. There is huge ambition in Connacht at the moment with exciting plans both on and off the field which I look forward to being part of. As a squad we are determined to bring further success to the province in the seasons ahead”.

Ireland international scrum half Kieran Marmion has returned to the Connacht side to face the Ospreys at the Brewery Field, Bridgend on Friday (Kick off 8:05pm). His return sees him renew his half back partnership with Jack Carty who is back in the starting team after being rested for the trip to Sale last weekend.

Bundee Aki also returns to the midfield alongside Tom Farrell. They are part of a back line that includes Tiernan O’Halloran at full back and Niyi Adeolokun and Cian Kelleher on the wings.

In the forwards, Finlay Bealham who was named in the Ireland squad yesterday, starts at tight head. He is joined in the front row by loosehead Denis Buckley and hooker Tom McCartney. Behind them in the scrum will be Quinn Roux and Ultan Dillane.

Sean O’Brien returns from injury and is named in the back row with Captain Jarrad Butler at openside and 21 year old Paul Boyle at number 8.

Announcing his team, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend spoke of the importance of Marmion’s return; “We have a few of our more experienced players coming back into the side which is a big boost to the squad. Caolin Blade has done really well for us over the past few games, but it is great to have Kieran back as well. He is a really important player for us and he is fit and rearing to go. We also have Bundee back in our midfield alongside Tom Farrell. So overall, we are strengthened by our returning players for what we expect to be a tough fixture.”, Friend said.

“Ospreys are going really well in our conference with four wins from their opening six games. The fact that they are hosting the game in Bridgeend, means that it will be a really unique fixture. A few of our squad have played there before so some guys will be familiar with the ground. It will be a great atmosphere and we are really looking forward to the challenge”, he added.

 

 

#OSPvCON

Kick-off 8:05pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Kyle Godwin.

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