There are changes in both flanker positions for tomorrow’s Vodafone Women’s Championship clash with Munster at The Sportsground (k/o 1pm).

Karly Tierney and Kayla Waldron start at blindside and openside flanker respectively, with the rest of the starting XV unchanged from the side that beat Ulster in Belfast last week.

Munster, Leinster and Connacht can all win the Championship heading into the final day – though Munster are best placed needing only a losing bonus point.

Kick-off is at 1pm with tickets on sale HERE, while Season Ticket holders have free entry.

CONNACHT WOMEN MATCHDAY SQUAD VS MUNSTER WOMEN
Saturday 21st January, 1pm @ The Sportsground

15. Mairead Coyne
14. Ava Ryder
13. Orla Dixon
12. Shannon Touhey
11. Clara Barrett
10. Nicole Fowley
9. Mary Healy (C)
1. Grainne O’Loughlin
2. Lily Brady
3. Laura Feely
4. Fiona Scally
5. Eva McCormack
6. Karly Tierney
7. Karla Waldron
8. Grace Browne Moran

16. Emily Gavin
17. Niamh O’Grady
18. Hannah Coen
19. Sonia McDermott
20. Orla Fenton
21. Olivia Haverty
22. Eabha Nic Dhonnacha
23. Mollie Starr

This Saturday Connacht make the short trip down to Limerick as they take on Munster in Round 8 of the United Rugby Championship, kick-off at Thomond Park is 7:35pm.

It’s the first game for Connacht since beating Ospreys on October 29th in Swansea due to the International break. Speaking to media ahead of the game was Connacht loose-head prop, Denis Buckley. The Roscommon native was asked what the players have been up to during the three week spell.

“We got a week off after the Ospreys game so most of the lads that weren’t involved with Ireland got away from the Sportsground for a few days”

“We came back and did a bit of an install for two days where as last week the training really ramped up”

“The coaches got to install a lot of things at a higher tempo and higher intensity than we would normally get during these weeks with no games”

“Last week was very tough as it was a combination of a pre-season week and rugby install week with install being a case of enforcing our key principles rather than new ideas”

“On a normal game week we don’t get a lot of chances to do that sort of stuff as a lot of time is spent on analysis and going through our play for the week”

We are two months into the new artificial surface at The Sportsground and Denis feels the players have adapted well to it.

“We’ve all adapted to it very well and its a great surface to play on”

“I know in the past when we’ve played on 4G pitches you’d always have to change your studs but in fairness to this pitch that’s not the case”

Connacht head down to Munster this weekend having already beating the Southern province at home, Denis knows the challenge that awaits.

“We have a block of two games in the URC and then go into Europe but we haven’t looked past this match on Saturday”

“Interpro games are always good games and the ones you want to play in”

“We know this is going to be a tough challenge going down to Thomond Park but one we’re all excited for”

“We know they are targeting this game but we’re ready and just want to get out there Saturday night to show what we can do”

Last week Andy Friend announced this will be his final season with Connacht Rugby. Ahead of this Saturday’s massive Interprovincial derby away to Munster in the BKT United Rugby Championship, the Connacht Director of Rugby spoke to media about calling time on his stay out West.

“It’s something me and Willie Ruane (Connacht CEO) have been aware of and others since I signed that last contract”

“Its good to get it out there and have the clarity there for everybody but it doesn’t change my focus or desire to hopefully win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season”

Between now and the 6 Nations, block two sees Connacht play ten games in-a-row in what will be a crucial period for the men in green regards URC and Europe. The last three weeks saw the International sides take over giving Andy, the coaches and players a chance to recharge ahead of this next block.

“Everyone had ten days off after the Ospreys game which I think was needed for coaches and players”

“Now that we have everyone back its all eyes on Munster”

“This is an important ten week block for us”

“We are all very aware of the first block of games we had but I think we’re well positioned for these games going forward”

One of the big questioned asked after coming back from the International break was if Connacht’s Irish players would be available this week?

“We have our Irish players available” said Andy

“From an IRFU point of view, those Irish players are allowed play seven of the next nine games before the 6 Nations kicks off”

November was a good one for Andy Farrell and his team and a lot of impressive displays from the Connacht players involved which Andy Friend spoke about.

“That last penalty which Ross Byrne kicked came from a scrum which Finlay (Bealham) got good dominance and he was heavily involved in winning that penalty”

“I thought all three of the boys (Bundee, Finlay and Mack) played well against Australia and great to see Cian Prendergast get his first cap during that block”

“It was also great to see Caolin Blade, Gavin Thornbury and Dave Heffernan in those camps as well”

Saturday see’s Connacht make the trip to Thomond Park where Munster await, Andy will be hoping his side get off to a good start in this window but knows the challenge that’s coming.

“Yeah its an important game but every game is”

“Munster away at Thomond Park is never an easy task but I thought we were close last year and the previous year we won there”

“You can’t just rock up to Thomond and think you’re going to win, you’ve got to work your backside off and bring an element of physicality along with accuracy in what you are doing”

The Connacht team for Saturday’s game will be named this Friday.

Its round 8 of the BKT United Rugby Championship as Connacht travel to Thomond Park for an interprovincial derby against Munster. 

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game.

When’s the game?

Kick-off at is at 7.35pm on Saturday 26th November.

What’s the state of play so far?

Connacht make their way to Limerick on the back of back-to-back wins against Welsh opposition. Wins against Scarlets and Ospreys saw Andy Friend’s side end block one of URC games in good form.

This is Munster’s third interprovincial derby in-a-row in the URC having lost the previous two against Ulster and Leinster. However they do come into this game on the back of an impressive win over South Africa ‘A’ during the international break.

How’s our recent record against them?

Our recent record against the Munster over the last five games have been as follows,

  • Con 20-11 Mun
  • Con 10-8 Mun
  • Mun 20-18 Con
  • Mun 20-24 Con
  • Mun 20-17 Con

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Friday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets are through Munster

What channel is it on?

TG4 and Premier Sports will have live TV coverage while Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Its round 4 of the BKT United Rugby Championship as we return home to The Sportsground for a massive Interprovincial-derby against Munster on Friday. This will be our first game on our brand new state-of-the-art pitch.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Friday’s game.

When’s the game?

Kick-off at The Sportsground is at 7.35pm on Friday 7th October.

What’s the state of play so far?

Connacht come into the game looking for their first win of the season. A tough opening three rounds with defeats to Ulster, defending champions DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls. All three games were away from home.

Munster got their first win of the season on Saturday at home to Zebre. A first win for their new Head Coach Graham Rowntree.

How’s our recent record against them?

The last four meetings between the two has seen both teams win two games each. Last season the first meeting in the URC was at Thomond Park which Munster won 20-18. Connacht got the upper hand in the reverse fixture at The Sportsground winning 10-8.

How will the two teams line up?

The Connacht management team will announce their squad at 12pm on Thursday when it will be named on connachtrugby.ie and the Connacht Rugby social channels.

How do I get tickets?

Tickets are available HERE

What channel is it on?

TG4 and Premier Sports will have live TV coverage while Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Connacht Juniors left it late to beat Munster 19-17 down in Killarney RFC on Saturday.

 

Marty Conneelly went over for the match winning try in the 82nd minute after being 17-14 down with the last play of the game.

 

Tries from Marty Conneelly 2, Aodha Hession 1 and Shane Purcell with 2 conversions.

 

Next game is this Saturday at home v Leinster in Buccaneers RFC at 2:30pm

 

Head Coach Barry Ruane and his management team have released their squad for this weekends opening Interpro fixture vs Munster Rugby, Saturday April 23rd, at Killarney 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 Interpro Series, 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. Mark Purcell * – Creggs RFC
12. Stephen Loftus * – Westport RFC
11. Ross Murphy Sweeney * – Buccaneers RFC
10. Shane Purcell * – Creggs RFC
9. Sam Walsh * – Westport RFC
1. A.Leech – Creggs RFC
2. Hiram Wood Hennessy * – Corinthians RFC
3. Craig Hansberry * – Ballinrobe RFC
4. Marty Cummins – Dunmore RFC
5. Niall Staunton – Connemara RFC
6. Brian Diffley – Creggs RFC
7. Brian Ruane * – Tuam RFC
8. TJ Berry – Connemara RFC

Replacements
16. Niall Carney * – Tuam RFC
17. Sean Tonra * – Castlebar RFC
18. Sean O’Connell – Buccaneers RFC
19. Fergus Galvin * – Buccaneers RFC
20. Alan Finnerty – Tuam RFC
21. Paul Lee * – Connemara RFC
22. Aodha Hession * – Creggs RFC
23. Ian Heanue – Connemara RFC

*first cap

 

Head coach Andy Friend said that the recent postponement of games has only made his squad of players more hungry for Saturday’s 5:15 PM Interprovincial clash against Munster at the Sportsground. 

 

Connacht were due to play Ulster in Belfast on St.Stephens’ Day, but the game was postponed due to positive COVID cases in the Northern provinces squad. 

 

But now the focus shifts to Munster – a team who the Westerners only narrowly last out to, 20-18, in their last meeting at Thomond Park in October – on New Years Day in a game which Friend expects to be physical. 

 

“It wasn’t overly disruptive, it was just more disappointing,” the Australian said of the Ulster postponement. 

 

 

“We all understand it, we understand that people’s wellbeing is at stake here, so we all need to respect that and we do respect that. The hard bit is and the disappointing bit is that you work really hard during the week to get a team and all the detail in the team.”

 

Friend expects the contrast in the style of play between his side and Munster to make for fascinating viewing come 5:15 PM on Saturday. 

 

For Connacht to win, they need to play their own style of Rugby but also match up to the physical credentials of their Southern rivals, he said. 

 

“Yeah, most people that watch the games closely can see the difference between the two styles. That’s our intention, is to try and play our style of Rugby. I have no doubt that Munster will try and play their style of Rugby. 

 

“As Alex(Wootton) says and I agree with him, it’s a great style to play. It does ask a lot of you but at the same time, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunities to express yourself. Our intention is to try and continue to play in our way.”

 

Meanwhile, winger Alex Wootton is relishing a run of games for the first team after battling through a spate of injuries this season. 

 

The 27-year-old was a key figure for Connacht last season, running in eleven tries in all competitions and impressing with his all round play. 

 

However, injuries have limited the former Munster player’s involvement to just four games – and one try – this season, and Wootton, who also missed a chunk of pre-season,  is keen to make up for lost time towards the tail end of this campaign and fully acclimate to the on-field strategies brought by the new coaches, Mossy Lawler, Deawald Senekal and Cullie Tucker. 

 

“Yeah, last season was great,” the English-born speedster said. 

 

“A lot has changed since then, I moved up here. Pre-season was fairly tricky with a niggle in my calf and competition for the back three has really stepped up this season. I’m finding it tough to hit my straps or tough to get back to where I was last season, maybe with some of the new stuff that has been put in and just trying to find grips into that. 

 

“I’m doing all I can to get back up there, but normally with a good pre-season you can get back up there fairly easily, but obviously that was a bit tricky, so I’m just putting the effort in, seeing if I can get back up there.”

 

The Westerners have continued to play an expensive, quick brand of attacking rugby this season and Wootton – a former Sevens player – admits it is extremely enjoyable for the players to operate in such a system of play.

 

However, the winger admits that the tweaked game plan is still a work in progress and the players will need to work hard – both in training and in games – to further master it. 

 

The key, he believes, is that the Connacht squad have a common purpose and vision of where they want to go in the future. 

 

“Yeah, it’s one of those game plans that when it’s working, it’s really working,” he said. 

 

“When we’re humming it’s fantastic to watch and it’s about getting that consistency in games and in training where we’re all on the same page and it’s working. 

 

“It’s still a work in progress and we all know where we need to go and that’s something we’ve lacked in the past, not necessarily knowing where we needed to go. We’ve got a clear vision and we’re really happy and we’re all going in the same direction.”

 

Fly-half Jack Carty says that Connacht will take learnings from last weekend’s home defeat to The Dragons and will apply them to the rest of their season, starting with Saturday’s United Rugby Championship Interpro versus Munster at Thomond Park. 

 

Despite leading at halftime, the Westerners eventually lost 35-22 to the Welshmen in last Saturday’s 5:15 PM kick-off at the Sportsground. 

 

However, the Irish international is confident that Connacht can bounce back at a venue where they won last season, but admits it will be an arduous task against their 100% winning record boasting southern rivals. 

 

“We spoke about backing up a big performance with another one after last week(The Bulls game), but unfortunately we didn’t do that,” the Roscommon native said. 

 

“It was bitterly disappointing and I think there was a couple of things there like if we scored Bladey’s try we go in at halftime with a bigger lead and I think it changes the dynamic a small bit. 

 

‘We were a bit flat throughout the game and it was a bit disappointing because we had a good week, and again we didn’t back it up how we wanted to.”

 

“It usually comes down to an error, or a piece of brilliance, if you think about the game last year,” Carty said of the generally tight encounters between Munster and Connacht. 

 

“Mike Haley, with a piece of brilliance from him, fielded a high ball and ended up scoring. We ended up getting a yellow card at a pivotal point and that was the turning of the game. 

 

“And down there in Thomond, we kind of grinded it out and held them out in the end. Usually, they’re one score games and it comes down to those finer things, like discipline, staying in the fight and sticking to what our game will be. When we play against Munster, it’s always a dog fight and always those one or two little pivotal things that are the making or the breaking of the game.”

 

Carty, 29, referenced Connacht’s win against The Bulls — a team with a similar size and athletic profile to Munster — as the kind of standard the Westerners will need to hit once again if they are to win the upcoming interprovincial. 

 

“Yeah, I think so. That’s the benchmark, defensively and in an attack sense, that everything from that point on would be that or more. Munster have totally changed the way they have played in certain facets of the game as well. 

 

“It will be a bit different from how they’ve been previously. They are obviously incredibly good in the air, and they have changed in how they look to shift the ball into the wider edges and in terms of where their players are going in terms of kick receipts. 

 

“It should be really interesting and it’s always a tight game when you go down there and it’s going to come down to the top two inches.”

 

Meanwhile, senior attack coach Pete Wilkins says Connacht are on track to improve, despite last weekend’s reversal to the Dragons. 

 

The Englishman, who moved from his defensive coaching berth to senior attack coach role this summer, said that there are positives for the Westerners to take — even in defeat — and that progress towards an enhanced style of play is clear for the coaching staff to see. 

 

And Wilkins is confident that squad will move forwards and adapt further to their new style of play and overall strategy. 

 

“I think that any time you’re going to change the way you play the game — particularly in an overall identity — it’s not going to be done in one pre-season, in one or two or three games,” Wilkins said. 

 

“If you can start to see a real semblance of that identity come together in the middle of that first season, I think that’s a good outcome. That said, you need to see key markers along the way. On a game-by-game basis, you want to see those aspects of your identity growing as you go, you don’t just wait six months and be patient, you need to see that building and then see that final product halfway through the season. 

 

“In that sense, I’m happy with how we’re tracking and every game gives us the opportunity to learn where we’re at and how we can fix things.”

 

“Unfortunately, sometimes you have to go through that pain and learn those lessons by reviewing it. But what you don’t want to see is that being repeated week by week, you want to see growth. We’re on track, we’re on the right track. There are some difficult lessons out of a defeat like that but we take the lessons and we will move forwards.”

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