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.”

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.

 

#CONvBOR

 

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.

 

 

 

Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that scrum halfs Caolin Blade and Conor McKeon and props Peter McCabe and Dominic Robertson-McCoy have signed contract extensions with the province ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Connacht native Caolin Blade came through the club structures in the province, playing for his local club Monivea RFC and from there went on to join the Connacht Academy. The 23 year old has now made 60 appearances in the Connacht jersey including 16 so far this season.

Conor McKeon graduated from the Connacht Academy last year after converting from the out half to scrum half position. He was a key player in the Connacht Eagles campaign this season in the B&I Cup.

Peter McCabe joined Connacht for a period on loan last season and signed a full time contract last summer. He has gone on to make 11 appearances during the current campaign.

Dominic Robertson-McCoy is now in his second season with Connacht. The New Zealand born Irish qualified tight head has made 5 appearances this season.

Welcoming the latest contract extensions, Connacht Rugby CEO, Willie Ruane said: “The signings of these four players are a further boost to our ambitions for next season. Caolin Blade and Conor McKeon have both come through our academy system and we are delighted that they have extended their contracts. Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Peter McCabe are two props that have settled in well in the Sportsground over the past two seasons. They will continue to provide increasing options in the front row next season.”

Commenting on the latest contract signings, Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane added: “These are another four important players to have on board for next season. Caolin Blade has featured heavily for us this season and has performed well. Conor McKeon, Peter McCabe and Dominic Robertson-McCoy will also give us additional options over the long season.”

 

Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane has announced his starting XV to take on Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday (Kick Of 7:45pm – Live on TG4). Irish Internationals Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and Bundee Aki are all rested this weekend in an effort to manage their game time.

 

Prop Peter McCabe is given a start against his former club and he is joined in the front row by Hooker Tom McCartney and tight head Conor Carey. Quinn Roux comes into the second row and there is a third start of the season in the back row for 20 year old Sligo native and Academy player Cillian Gallagher.

 

Eoin Griffin and Pita Ahki form the new centre partnership and the back three is made up or Tiernan O’Halloran at fullback with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy on the wings. Caolin Blade comes in at scrum half and will play alongside Jack Carty. Among the replacements, prop Conan O’Donnell and back row Paul Boyle make the step up from the Connacht Academy.

 

Speaking ahead of the clash with Munster, Connacht Head Coach Kieran said: “We have come through a series of big games and some guys have seen a lot of game time. Our internationals in particular are due a break especially with the Six Nations just around the corner. The squad is in a really good place at the moment. Obviously, we felt we could and should have won against Leinster and we came very close. We did the review during the week, we identified where we came up short and now we move on. The performance and effort levels from the boys over the past few weeks has been top quality and particularly in the interpro series we have seen some real character.”

We have some changes in personnel for the Munster game so there are opportunities for other guys to show what they are capable of. Munster will be hurting after their two games over the Christmas period and at home they will be a massive challenge. They have quality all over the park and I’m sure they will be really determined to get back to winning ways before they get back to European competition”.

 

#MUNvCON

Kick-off 7:45pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Pita Ahki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade,
(1-8) Peter McCabe, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Cillian Gallagher, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Conan O’Donnell, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.

 

 

 

 

Our senior squad returned to training on Monday as pre-season for the upcoming campaign began with the countdown now on for our fixtures against Wasps and Bristol next month.

Decked out in the new training kit, which will be available in Elverys Sports stores from July 20, there were a number of new faces settling in with the squad over the last three days.

Scrum-half James Mitchell, prop Peter McCabe and second row Gavin Thornbury have all been training along with Academy graduates Conor McKeon (scrum-half), Cormac Brennan (utility back) and Pat O’Toole (hooker).

Today, a number of the squad will be out among our local clubs with 12 senior players visiting Connacht Rugby Summer Camps, sponsored by Galway Free Range Eggs.

Two fixtures are lined up in August and Season Ticket holders for the 2017/18 season have free access to the pre-season fixture against Bristol at the Sportsground on Saturday, August 26 (3pm).

That game will be new coach Kieran Keane’s first home game at the helm with Pat Lam leading the opposition and tickets will be available to purchase shortly with a high demand expected.

Prior to that clash, Connacht travel to the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday, August 23, to take on Premiership runners-up Wasps.

 

Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce the signing of prop Peter McCabe for the 2017/18 season.

25-year-old McCabe spent a short time training with Connacht as part of a loan deal in January but was recalled by Munster Rugby in February to start in the front row against Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO12.

The Cork-born prop played a starring role as Munster ‘A’ won the British & Irish Cup last season and made five senior appearances having earned his PRO12 debut in November 2016, coming on as a replacement against the Ospreys. The following week he started the friendly victory over the Maori All Blacks at Thomond Park and ended the season with four PRO12 appearances to his name.

Guarantee your entry to all Connacht home games by signing up for a 2017/18 Season Ticket here.

Commenting on the announcement, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said: “We’re delighted to have Peter joining us for the new season. He already had a short taste of training with Connacht earlier in the year but it will be great to have him on board and part of the squad from the beginning of pre-season.”

Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy added: “We have been keen for Peter to join our squad for some time now. He has huge potential as a young Irish prop and will add even more competition to our front row options. I’m really looking forward to working with him next season.”

McCabe is delighted to make the move to the Sportsground: “It is a privilege to sign for Connacht Rugby, a club that epitomises pride in the jersey and who play an exciting and expansive brand of rugby that I feel will suit my game. I look forward to pushing myself over the coming season.”

McCabe is the second new signing to join the province in the past week after Irish qualified scrum-half James Mitchell made the move from Sale Sharks last Wednesday.

A new Head of Athletic Performance, David Howarth, was also appointed recently. Howarth joined from NBA side Oklahoma City Thunder where he worked as Athletic Performance Coordinator for the past three years.

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