Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made four changes to his starting team to face Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 at Murrayfield on Friday (Kick off 7:35pm).
With Dave Heffernan and Ultan Dillane unavailable due to international duty and Gavin Thornbury picking up an injury last weekend, all four changes come in the forward pack that dominated Cardiff last time out.
In the front row, prop Denis Buckley and hooker Shane Delahunt are the two new faces with tighthead Finlay Bealham retained from the Cardiff game, while in the second row, Joe Maksymiw and Niall Murray both come into the starting team.
The back row does remain unchanged with Paul Boyle and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively and captain Jarrad Butler at number 8.
There are no changes in the backs which means that Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue their half-back partnership, while in midfield Kyle Godwin and Peter Robb will hope to make a big impact against the conference rivals.
The side is completed by a back three that includes Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back and Niyi Adeolokun and John Porch on the wings.
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We put in a good performance against Cardiff, but we know there are still areas for improvement and Edinburgh in Murrayfield are a different prospect this week. They have set the pace in our conference and are sitting top of the table. We know that results against them at home and away between now and the end of the season will have a huge bearing on our qualification prospects”.
“We have made four changes to our starting team from last weekend but there is still a familiar look to it. We have selected a team that we feel will challenge Edinburgh and we are looking forward to the challenge on Friday evening”, Friend added.
Connacht Matchday Squad V Edinburgh (Fri 21 Feb, 7:35pm)

(15-9): Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Peter Robb, John Porch, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (1-8): Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly.

The Connacht Eagles management team have named their squad for tonight’s Cara Cup inter-provincial derby with Ulster A in Massachusetts (k/o 7pm local, 11pm Irish time).
The squad is again captained by Joe Maksymiw who renews his second row partnership with Peter Claffey. There’s one change to the front row named to start against the New England Free Jacks last week, with Jordan Duggan coming in alongside Jonny Murphy and Conor Kenny.
There’s a blend of experience and youth in the back-row with Robin Copeland starting at number 8 and James Connolly at openside flanker, with Sean Masterson on the opposite flank.
In the backs James Mitchell and Conor Dean form a new look half-back pairing, with Sean O’Brien and Corey Reid starting together in midfield. A back three of wingers Conor Hayes and Hugh Lane and full-back Colm de Buitlear completes the side.
The Eagles will be looking to build on Saturday’s 38-7 win over the Free Jacks at the Union Point Field in Weymouth, south of Boston. Ulster will complete their Cara Cup campaign in the coming days with Munster A and Leinster A to visit the venue next month.
CONNACHT EAGLES XV VS ULSTER A (Wednesday 20 March @ Union Point Sports Complex, Weymouth MA)
15. Colm de Buitlear
14. Hugh Lane
13. Corey Reid
12. Sean O’Brien
11. Conor Hayes
10. Conor Dean
9. James Mitchell
1. Jordan Duggan
2. Jonny Murphy
3. Conor Kenny
4. Peter Claffey
5. Joe Maksymiw (c)
6. Sean Masterson
7. James Connolly
8. Robin Copeland

16. Declan Adamson
17. Conan O’Donnell
18. Neal Moylett
19. Cian Huxford
20. Stephen Kerins
21. Luke Carty
22. Oran McNulty

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has named two Academy players on the bench for his side’s opening Challenge Cup game of the season against Bordeaux Bégles at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick off 3pm).


Out half Conor Fitzgerald and Connemara man Colm de Buitlear, who has featured across the back three, are named among the Connacht replacements.


In the starting XV the front row of props Peter McCabe and Conor Carey along with hooker Shane Delahunt are all set for their first starts of the season. In the second row there is one change from the side that defeated Ulster last weekend, with James Cannon starting alongside Quinn Roux. Captain Jarrad Butler at blindside, Colby Fainga’a at openside and number 8 Robin Copeland complete the pack.


Caolin Blade comes back in at scrum-half for the injured Kieran Marmion where he partners Jack Carty, who has been in outstanding form this season. Elsewhere in the back line the experienced Eoin Griffin joins Bundee Aki in midfield. Kyle Godwin is named on the wing with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing, and Cian Kelleher at full-back making up the back three.


On the bench lock Joe Maksymiw looks set to make his Connacht debut while there is also plenty of experience to draw on with Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham also included in the match day 23.


Speaking ahead of the first European fixture of the season, Head Coach Andy Friend says he went for a blend of youth and experience in his selection; “We are really looking forward to our opening game of our Challenge Cup campaign. This is a competition that Connacht have a proud tradition in and we hope to make a big impact in this season. We are coming off six tough PRO14 games, so it is only natural that there is some rotation of the squad, but we are have a good blend of youth and experience among the squad. We have included Conor Fitzgerald and Colm De Buitléar, two promising Academy players, among our replacements. We hope that they will get a chance to make their debuts at some stage during the eighty minutes. It is a big opportunity to be involved in a European fixture especially in front of the home fans in the Sportsground. We also have plenty of experience on that bench to call on if needed,” Friend said.


“It has been a big week for the club with the announcement of our stadium plans all coming off a good win against Ulster last weekend. We know that Bordeaux will come with a big physical side and we are expecting a massive challenge. But it will be a big occasion in the Sportsground. Our fans have been huge for us this season and they will be on a high again tomorrow I’m sure”, Friend added.




Kick-off 3:00pm:

(15-9) Cian Kelleher, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Kyle Godwin, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Peter McCabe, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Quinn Roux, Jarrad Butler (c), Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Conán O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, Conor McKeon, Conor Fitzgerald, Colm De Buitléar.




The Connacht management team have named their starting line-up for tomorrow’s historic pre-season friendly with Wasps at Dubarry Park, Athlone.

Jarrad Butler leads out the side for the first time since he was named the 2018/19 club captain on Wednesday, while there are starts for new signings Joe Maksymiw and Kyle Godwin.

Makysmiw is joined by James Cannon in the second row, while there’s a front three of Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham.

Butler is joined in the third row by Paul Boyle and Eoin McKeon, while the half-back partnership consists of Caolin Blade and Jake Carty.

Godwin’s midfield partner is Tom Farrell with the back three consisting of Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun and Cian Kelleher who is fresh off his hat-trick in last weekend’s friendly win over Brive.

A number of general admission and family tickets remain on sale for the game, however all seated stand tickets are now sold out. Tickets can be purchased here

Connacht Rugby are pleased to announce the signing of Irish qualified lock Joe Maksymiw from Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2018/19 season.


Maksymiw is a product of the Leicester Tigers Academy and made his first senior appearance for the club against the Barbarians in 2014. This season he featured in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and made his Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup debuts for the club. 


A former student at De Lisle College and Wyggeston College, Maksymiw gained his first senior rugby experience with Leicester Lions at National League level. In the 2015/16 season he also played in the Championship for Doncaster where he spent a period on loan. The 22-year-old was part of England under 18’s tour to South Africa in 2014. 


Commenting on the signing of Joe Maksymiw, Connacht Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy said: “Joe is an exciting young player who we are looking forward to having in our squad next season. He is a big powerful lock who has progressed well at Leicester and he will be a good addition to Connacht Rugby”.


Speaking after signing for Connacht Rugby, Joe Maksymiw said: “I am hugely excited about signing for Connacht and cannot wait to get over to the Sportsground and join up with the squad. I have really enjoyed my time with Leicester and would like to thank them for developing me as a player over the past few years. I know there is huge ambition within Connacht Rugby to bring further success to the province and I hope to contribute to that next season.”




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