Head Coach Barry Ruane and his management team have released their squad for this weekends Interpro fixture vs Leinster Rugby, Saturday April 30th, at Buccaneers RFC (k/o 2.30pm)

 

There are 9 Connacht Clubs represented in this weekends squad; we would like to wish the players & management the very best of luck for Saturday, a great honour to all. Creggs Rfc’s Brian Diffley will Captain the side.

 

Number/Name/Club

15. Henry O’Toole – Connemara RFC

14. Marty Connelly – Connemara RFC

13. Ian Heanue – Connemara RFC

12. Mark Purcell – Creggs RFC

11. Ross Murphy Sweeney – Buccaneers RFC

10. Shane Purcell – Creggs RFC

9. Aodha Hession – Creggs RFC

1. A.Leech – Creggs RFC

2. Hiram Wood Hennessy – Corinthians RFC

3. Craig Hansberry – Ballinrobe RFC

4. Fergus Galvin- Buccaneers RFC

5. Niall Staunton – Connemara RFC

6. Brian Diffley – Creggs RFC

7. Brian Ruane – Tuam RFC

8. TJ Berry – Connemara RFC

 

Replacements
16. Sean Tonra – Castlebar RFC

17. Ian Staunton – Connemara RFC

18. Sean O’Connell – Buccaneers RFC

19. Alan Finnerty – Tuam RFC

20. Paul Lee – Connemara RFC

21. Sam Walsh – Westport RFC

22. Eoghan Coyle * – Creggs RFC

23. Conor Burns * – Dunmore RFC

24. Stephen Loftus – Westport RFC

25. Niall Carney – Tuam RFC

 

Management

Sean Higgins & Declan Slattery (Managers)

Barry Ruane (Head coach)

Alan Bane (Forwards Coach)

Eddie Walsh (Backs Coach)

Damien Burke (Physio)

 

Head coach Andy Friend is confident that Connacht can find a new level of performance ahead of Friday night’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 first leg clash with Leinster, kick-off 8PM. 

 

After his team defeated Benetton Rugby away in the United Rugby Championship last weekend, Friend says that elements of that performance can build confidence and be applied to the interprovincial showdown with their eastern rivals. 

 

However, the Australian is also aware that Connacht will need to be at their best against a formidable Leinster outfit. 

 

“As a team searching for the winning ways again, and probably a bit of confidence and belief ourselves, we got that, we got a shot of that,” the Australian said. 

 

“I think yesterday and today, with the way the game has been reviewed, leading into the preview of this game, has added more clarity for everybody and more confidence for everybody. We definitely needed that, but we’re going to need that in spades come Friday night and during the following one.”

 

Leinster’s work rate – especially in their defence and at the breakdown – has stifled many teams attacking ambitions and Friend believes that the route to victory for Connacht is to be efficient with their strike plays. 

 

“I think one of the pluses that came out of our last encounter against them was the way we launched our strike plays. I thought we made yards and got in behind them and a lot of that was with 14 men against 15 men. 

 

“I think our launches have been one of the consistent areas of our game this season. If it’s 15 on 15, I’m comfortable and confident that when we get our detail right – and that’s Mossy Lawler who looks after those, I think he has a brilliant eye for opportunity and a brilliant eye on how to pull opposition defence apart – and then it’s about the players executing that.

 

“I think, on the whole, the boys have been really good with that, so it’s actually an area as we enter the game, and we’ll respect the fact that Leinster have a very good defence and they’ll try to shut that down, but I’m going to back the fact that the quality of work that’s gone into the launches is going to be good.”

 

Meanwhile, back-row forward Conor Oliver says that the Connacht squad are excited to lock horns with Leinster on Friday night. 

 

Oliver, who has impressed this season – with his work at the breakdown and in defence particularly standing out – says that he and his teammates are playing at the level, the Heineken Champions knockout stages, where they want to be competing. 

 

And despite losing their last game to Leinster, the former Munster man is confident that Connacht can bag a win in front of their home crowd. 

 

“The main mood is excitement,” the 26-year-old said when asked how the camp were feeling ahead of the first of two continental clashes with Leinster.

 

“We’re excited. These European weeks, they’re different and there’s a different buzz around. This is the biggest game of the season, obviously, so everyone is really excited and ready to tear in. 

 

“We’re very confident in our detail and preparation and most of the lads are just raring to get going on Friday.”

 

Oliver, who joined the province in 2020, said that training – where Connacht have 42 fit players available for selection – has been intense with all the squad extremely eager to play this coming Friday. 

 

“These kinds of training sessions are the only opportunity for some to prove yourself and to show that you’re ready. The training sessions here are always tasty and always on that knife-edge and on that boiling point. I think that’s the kind of intensity that we need in training so that we can bring that into the games. 

 

“There’s massive competition in the squad and any professional athlete would tell you that when there’s competition for places, it makes everyone train better because there are lads at your heels every time. It’s a really good environment and we’re delighted to get the lads back out on the pitches as well; no one wants to see your teammates with long-term injuries.

 

“We had two lads come back last week, Dylan Tierney Martin and Gavin Thornbury, who were out for a long time, and it’s great seeing them back in the mix and putting in good performances in as well.”

Connacht were defeated 45-8 by Leinster in a physical interprovincial at the Sportsground tonight in the United Rugby Championship. 

 

A Jack Carty penalty and a Tiernan O’Halloran try accounted for the home teams scores, but – after Tom Daly’s red card after just two minutes – playing with a man down for the majority of the game, Leinster ran out winners. 

 

The home team will face Bennetton away in the United Rugby Championship next weekend. 

 

The contest began with a typical Interprovincial intensity and Leinster were reduced to 14 men temporarily when Tommy O’Brien was reprimanded for a tackle in the air on Niall Murray right from the game’s kick-off. 

 

However, Connacht soon joined the away team in losing a man when Tom Daly was red-carded for a tackle on Ciaran Frawley, meaning both sides were brandished cards in the opening two minutes. 

 

The away side were soon restored to their full complement and they began to put pressure on Connacht, whose defence was stout – withstanding phase after phase of close carries near their line –   and Leinster eventually recycled the ball wide to Rory O’Loughlin to touch down. Ross Byrne added the conversion and Leinster found themselves 7-0 in front after an extremely physical opening fifteen minutes. 

 

The hosts began to work their way back into the contest from that point, and after a huge break, including defence cutting carries from Niall Murray and Jarrad Butler, they earned a penalty that Carty slotted to put Connacht on the board and bring the score back to 3-7 midway through the first half. 

 

With one score under their belts, the home team – whose scrum was proving a great launchpad, with replacement Matthew Burke and the entire front row to the fore – pushed for more, and their ambition bore fruit when O’Halloran caught an exquisite offload from Carty, who was playing from a penalty advantage, to touch down for the home teams opening try, which saw Connacht lead 8-7 going into the half time break. 

 

The second half began with the same ferocious tempo with both teams committed to attack, but it was Leinster who opened the scoring for the second period when David Hawkshaw went over from close range. Byrne slotted the extras the away team lead 14-8.

 

Two tries soon became two for the visitors when Luke McGrath ran in a try from inside the 22. Hawkshaw added the conversion and the margin stretched to 21-8. 

 

With their tails up, the away team secured their bonus point try when Ciaran Frawley dived on a bouncing ball in the in-goal area to take the score to 26-8 to Leinster. A fifth try soon followed when Tommy O’Brien fielded an offload to slide in for the five-pointer to take the score to 31-8.

 

Connacht were still game and dogged, but the man deficit told late on and Josh Murphy added Leinster’s sixth try – which Hawkshaw converted – to grow their lead to 38-8. O’Brien added his second score to take the final score to 45-8 in Leinster’s favour. 

 

Connacht team: 

 

(15-9)

 

15: Tiernan O’Halloran

14: John Porch 

13: Tom Farrell 

12: Tom Daly 

11: Oran McNulty 

10: Jack Carty © 

9: Kieran Marmion 

 

(8-1)

 

8: Jarrad Butler 

7: Conor Oliver 

6: Cian Prendergast 

5: Niall Murray 

4: Oisin Dowling 

3: Jack Aungier 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Denis Buckley 

 

Replacements:

 

16: Jonny Murphy for Dave Heffernan 

17: Matthew Burke for Denis Buckley 

18: Greg McGrath for Jack Aungier 

19: Ultan Dillane for Niall Murray

20: Paul Boyle for Conor Oliver

21: Caolin Blade for Kieran Marmion

22: Sammy Arnold 

23: Diarmuid Kilgallen for Oran McNulty

Head coach Andy Friend wants to see his team bring a high intensity and physicality to Saturday’s 7:35 PM United Rugby Championship interprovincial game with Leinster at The Sportsground.

 

After a disappointing defeat to Edinburgh last time out, Friend is keen for his side to make amends this coming Saturday and the key to that – he says – is playing with bravery, on both sides of the ball, and speed, hallmarks of Connacht’s tactical blueprint.

 

“What I want to see when we’re carrying is we’re carrying with real intent and the opposition defenders who are trying to slow our ruck ball – which they will be – removed with real physicality,” the Australian said.

 

Sticking to Connacht’s principles – which have resulted in victories against Leinster before – is what Friend wants from his players and he wants to see those strategies put into practice from the first whistle on Saturday evening.

 

“We want our physicality to show, a functioning set piece where we’re winning our line out and defending well against their line out,” the former Australian Sevens coach said.

 

“Our kicking game being accurate and doing what we’re meant to be doing on it and our fundamentals, our key principles that we talk about ad nauseam, around attack and defence are being adhered to and we have 15 players connected on the field.

 

“If we see that, it should be a good afternoon.”

 

Meanwhile, Captain Jarrad Butler says that Connacht are focusing on the upcoming United Rugby Championship clash with Leinster at the Sportsground on Saturday as an individual game and not as part of a trilogy of fixtures against the Eastern province.

 

After Andy Friend’s men host Leinster at 7:35 PM on Saturday in the league, they will face the reigning league champions twice more in the Heineken Champions Cup in the following weeks, meaning that three of Connacht’s next four fixtures in all competitions will be interprovincial’s against their eastern rivals.

 

However, Butler knows that taking it each game at a time is the right approach and that is the mentality across the whole squad and coaching staff.

 

“Playing any team three times in four weeks is bizarre, I haven’t been in a situation like that before,” the back-row forward said.

 

“Those other two games, in the Champions Cup, we haven’t really started to focus on those now. We have put ourselves under some pressure with the URC(United Rugby Championship).

 

“I think if you went into this week you could put a lot of pressure on yourself, but I don’t think we can do that. We just have to focus on the game this week and do what we can do to put in a really good performance at home against really good opposition.

 

“I think we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we thought too long term, we just have to focus on this week.”

 

Butler is excited by the prospect of locking horns with Leinster, a team and squad he rates as among the best in Europe.

 

However, the 30-year-old says that the key to any Connacht win will be focusing on themselves and their own game rather than devising a plan solely based on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.

 

“That Leinster team is just full of so much talent. One of their biggest strengths is their depth,” the former Brumbies man said.

 

“They have got two full teams that they can put out on the pitch and can do a really good job for them. I think you can’t get too caught up in the selection of that team. You kinda have to worry about your own things, because you really don’t know what kind of team they are going to put out on the field.

 

“Regardless, all of them are class, they are littered with international players, really high-quality players. It is what it is, you can’t think too much about it, you just have to focus on your stuff. If you get too worried about the team that’s in front of you, you’re halfway to losing the game already.”

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