Connacht have continued to build for the future with a three-year contract extension for Galway native Dylan Tierney-Martin.
Tierney-Martin made his debut in March 2021 against Scarlets and has made 15 appearances for his home province. The hooker came through the ranks at The Bish and Corinthians RFC, and was the top try-scorer for Ireland in the 2019 U20 Six Nations, helping them to win a Grand Slam.
Dylan Tierney-Martin says:
“It was a no-brainer for me to sign on for three more years so I’m delighted to be staying on. It’ll be an exciting three years for everyone at the club and I can’t wait to play my part in that.”
Andy Friend says:
“Dylan continues to grow his skill set that will allow him to become a top class hooker. As a Province, Connacht have a huge focus on home grown players and are proud of those that come through the pathway system. Dylan is a prime example of that and I truly believe he has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Further contract announcements will follow later in the week.

A night to forget in Newcastle as Connacht leave Kingston Park empty handed in the Challenge Cup.

Heading into the game Connacht had the potential of playing home games in the knockout stages of the competition but those dreams were wiped away after a 35-21 defeat to Newcastle Falcons.

It was a nightmare start in the North East of England with the home side getting three tries in the opening 20 minutes. Micky Young with the first in the third minute before Matias Orlando in the tenth and Tian Schoeman in the 19th which had Falcons 21-0 up.

Nine minutes into the game Connacht were down to 14 men when Byron Ralston was sent to the sin bin.

Midway through the first half though Connacht got themselves back into the game. Finlay Bealham with his first of three tries in the 21st minute after squeezing over with a penalty advantage as Newcastle made a mess of the restart after their try

Seven minutes later Finlay got his second when he drove over the line. Conor Fitzgerald scored his second conversion to bring the men in green to within a converted try of the hosts.

With the score being 21-14 at half-time Connacht needed to make the brighter start in the second forty. Two minutes in however it was Newcastle who got their fourth try of the game from Josh Barton who took advantage of some poor tackling.

Connacht needed the next score and they got it, after a few close drives in the build up Finlay completed his hat-trick, Fitzgerald added the conversion to make it 28-21 with 54 minutes on the clock.

Unfortunately for Connacht though that was as close as they got with Pete Lucock getting the fifth Falcons try before Josh Thomas converted to finish the scoring at 35-21.

The result means Connacht will now play Benetton away in the last 16.

The Connacht management team have made six changes to their starting XV, as the province aims to secure at home knockout tie in tomorrow’s EPCR Challenge Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons (k/o 5.30pm).
There are starts for Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Leva Fifita, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Fitzgerald and the fit-again Adam Byrne.
Fresh off his Ireland inclusion in the Six Nations, Finlay Bealham forms the front row with Buckley and Delahunt, while Josh Murphy keeps his place in the second row. The back row is completed by captain Jarrad Butler at number 8, and openside flanker Conor Oliver.
Colm Reilly is retained at scrum-half, while the Cathal Forde-Byron Ralston combo at centre continues after impressive performances last weekend. Byrne is named on the right wing, with Alex Wootton on the left and Mack Hansen again named at full-back.
A losing bonus point ensures a home tie in the Round of 16, but a bonus point win could also mean potential home games further in the knockout stages.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“It’s been a good Challenge Cup campaign for us so far, but tomorrow’s game is very important in mapping out our potential route in the knockout stages. We want to play as many games as possible at our home so we travel to England knowing every point matters.
Newcastle brought huge amounts of physicality to The Sportsground last month so it’s up to us to match that at their home turf, and as always away from home we then need to take our chances when the opportunities arise.”

Saturday 21st January, 17:30 @ Kingston Park

15. Mack Hansen (23)
14. Adam Byrne (4)
13. Byron Ralston (11)
12. Cathal Forde (6)
11. Alex Wootton (39)
10. Conor Fitzgerald (62)
9. Colm Reilly (16)
1. Denis Buckley (221)
2. Shane Delahunt (123)
3. Finlay Bealham (184)
4. Leva Fifita (21)
5. Josh Murphy (10)
6. Shamus Hurley-Langton (11)
7. Conor Oliver (53)
8. Jarrad Butler (106) (C)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (14)
17. Jordan Duggan (33)
18. Jack Aungier (42)
19. Darragh Murray (4)
20. Ciaran Booth (4)
21. Caolin Blade (160)
22. Tom Daly (70)
23. Tom Farrell (89)

Connacht Rugby are pleased to confirm another contract renewal for a homegrown talent, with Niall Murray signing a new two-year deal.
The Roscommon lock first made his debut in December 2019 and has gone on to make 47 appearances for his home province.
He was also a part of the Ireland U20 side that won a Grand Slam in the 2019 U20 Six Nations.
Niall Murray says:
“I’m really pleased to sign a two-year contract and extend my stay at my home province. The club gave me my first opportunity and since then I’ve loved every minute. Now I want to do everything I can to keep improving and helping the club succeed.”
Andy Friend says:
“Niall is a brilliant young professional who’s game continues to go from strength to strength. He’s always had a natural athleticism about him, and recently he’s added extra physicality & bulk to his game. He’s becoming one of our key forward leaders too, so we’re delighted to see him commit to Connacht for at least a few more years.”

The Ireland Coaching Team have named a 37-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations Championship, which kicks off with an away trip to Cardiff to face Wales on Saturday, 4th February.

In Round 2, Ireland host France at Aviva Stadium looking to secure their first victory over Fabien Galthie’s side since 2019.  There was just six points between the two sides last year in Paris and France emerged the victors when they last faced off in Dublin the previous year, winning 15-13.

In Round 3, Ireland travel to Rome to face a resurgent Italy who have recorded wins over Australia and Wales in the past year.

Round 4 sees Andy Farrell’s side travel to BT Murrayfield to face Gregor Townsend’s Scotland and six days later, in the final game of the Championship, Ireland play host to England at Aviva Stadium.

Both of Ireland’s home games against France and England are sold out and all of Ireland’s fixtures will be broadcast live on free-to-air television and radio across RTE, VIRGIN, BBC, ITV, RTE Radio and BBC NI Radio.

Ireland finished second to France in last year’s Championship with four wins and five bonus points for a total of 21 points, claiming the Triple Crown for the first time since 2018.

There is one uncapped player named in the squad, Leinster’s Jamie Osborne. Osborne was first integrated into the Senior squad in November 2021 as a Development Player and has since featured for Emerging Ireland and Ireland A.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell commented: “The Six Nations is a huge competition for us and another opportunity for us to grow as group. 2022 was a busy year as we got to work with a larger group of players as we continued to build our squad depth and competition for places.

While there are a few players carrying knocks and others that have missed out on selection for the start of the tournament, they will have the opportunity to push their case playing for their provinces in the URC over the coming weeks as no doubt we will need to call upon the wider group as the tournament progresses.”

Ireland Squad, 2023 Guinness Six Nations:

Backs (17):

Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 41 caps
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 14 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 7 caps
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) 2 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 98 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 23 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 8 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 25 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Marys College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 15 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 9 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 100 caps
Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 3 caps
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas) *
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College)(captain) 109 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 caps

Forwards (20):

Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 8 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 27 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 36 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 33 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 23 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 63 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 121 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 31 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 18 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 48 caps
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin University) 1 cap
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 89 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 4 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
Cian Prendergast (Connacht/Corinthians) 1 cap
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 48 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 45 cap

*denotes uncapped player

2023 Guinness Six Nations Fixtures:

Saturday 4th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
VIRGIN / BBC / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

IRELAND v France
Saturday 11th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
RTE TV / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

Saturday 25th February 2023, KO 14:15 (IST)
RTE TV / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

Scotland v IRELAND
Sunday 12th March 2023, KO 15:00 (IST)
RTE TV / BBC / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

IRELAND v England
Saturday 18th March 2023, KO 17:00 (IST)
VIRGIN / ITV / RTE Radio / BBC Radio

The last two weeks have seen Connacht get back-to-back bonus points wins and scoring a total of 13 tries as they now get ready for the challenge of Newcastle Falcons away to secure a home fixtures in the Last 16.

Speaking ahead of the weekends game was Connacht Head coach Pete Wilkins who has been pleased with the sides performances the last two games.

“It’s pleasing and its been something we’ve been aiming for every week with our attack”

“Things have clicked over the last couple of weeks and it continues to evolve”

“We played some cracking rugby against Brive but we need to build on that and set a new benchmark for ourselves and keep it going”

The quality of the opposition may have been questioned regards the strength of the teams sent over to The Sportsground from the Sharks and Brive but Connacht still had a job to do and wins like those along with the performances can bring great confidence and gel a team more.

“I think the way we dealt with those two games gave us a chance to evolve and work on combinations while developing our play in an attacking sense”

“On the other hand though, we’ve talked before about potential banana skins when teams are not at full strength or games you are expected to win”

“That Brive performance at the weekend, despite them having some first choice players left at home I thought it was a significant performance from our lads because we’ve talked for some time when teams are expected to win by 20 or 30 points that the good teams do it”

“Regardless of the opposition it was an important next step for us”

Qualification for the knockout stages were confirmed after last weekends win against Brive. Focus now turns to securing a home tie for the Last 16 which Pete knows may require a bonus point win.

“Getting a home knockout game for us is significant”

“The important thing for us initially was to qualify”

“Home games are an advantage and it would be great for us as we have a confidence and swagger about us on our pitch along with the great support of the fans”

The Connacht team for Saturday will be named on Friday.

Ireland international Dave Heffernan is the latest player to renew his contract with Connacht, signing a new two-year deal.
The Ballina man first lined out for Connacht in March 2012 and has since made 177 appearances. On the international scene he has 7 caps and has become a regular feature in the Ireland squad.
He will now remain at the club until at least the end of the 2024/25 season.
Dave Heffernan says:
“I’m delighted to be staying at Connacht for another two years and in truth it was an easy decision for me. I feel like I’ve been playing some good rugby this season so now I want to kick on and achieve success with both Connacht and hopefully Ireland down the line.”
Andy Friend says:
“Heff is another example of a player from the West who has worked his way through the ranks to become a really important player for us. He brings enormous physicality on the pitch every time he plays and you can see he has brought his game on another level this season. It’s another great contract renewal by the club.”
Further contract announcements will follow later this week.

Scrum-half Caolin Blade has signed a new three-year deal with Connacht Rugby, the club can confirm.
The Monivea native made his debut in 2014, the first of his 160 appearances for the club. He has now committed his long-term future to Connacht with a contract that keeps him at The Sportsground until the end of the 2025/26 season.
The 28-year-old is also an Irish international, featuring against the USA in July 2021.
Caolin Blade says:
“I’m very proud and happy to commit to Connacht Rugby for another three years. This club means a lot to me and I want to do everything I can to help them succeed into the future. The prospect of training and playing in our new stadium really appeals to me so I can’t wait to see what’s in store.”
Andy Friend says:
“Bladey epitomises the fast, high-tempo rugby Connacht are known for, so it’s great to keep him at his home province for at least another three seasons. To tie him down on a long-term contract is a significant show of faith both from the club to him as a player, but also from Caolin to the club in terms of what the aims are for the years ahead.”
Further contract announcements will follow later in the week.

With qualification to the knockout stages confirmed, this Saturday Connacht look to book a Last 16 tie at home as they travel to Newcastle for Round 4 of the Challenge Cup.

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

When’s the game?

Kick-off is 5.30pm on Saturday 21st January.

What’s the state of play so far?

After Saturday’s win over Brive at The Sportsground Connacht come into Saturday’s game with three wins from three in the competition. The focus now for Andy Friend’s side is to keep that 100% winning record going as eyes are set on getting a home tie for the Last 16.

Newcastle still have hope of qualification despite three defeats to three.

How’s our recent record against them?

Our last meeting against Newcastle was back in December where Connacht won 22-8.

  • Con 22-8 New
  • New 29-5 Con
  • Con 25-10 New

How will the two teams line up?

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

How do I get tickets?

Tickets available through Newcastle Falcons.

What channel is it on?

TV viewing on EPCR TV and Galway Bay FM have live radio commentary.

Connacht Rugby are delighted to confirm a two-year contract extension for John Porch, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2024/25 season.
A fans’ favourite since joining in 2019, Porch has scored 17 tries in 72 appearances after arriving from the Australia Sevens scene, where he had previously worked with Andy Friend. More recently he scored a sensational try against Brive on Saturday – the first of nine for Connacht that evening.
John Porch says:
“I’m really pleased to agree a contract extension with Connacht. I know there was some speculation about my future but I’ve decided I want to help this club go from strength to strength. I’m enjoying life in the West of Ireland and there are some really exciting plans for the future that I want to be a part of.”
Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Porchy has every attribute you look for in a back three player, so securing his services is a brilliant bit of news for the club. I know it was a very big decision for he & his wife, and it shows John’s affection for Connacht and willingness to help the club to continue to grow over the next few years.”
Further announcements on player contract extensions will follow later this week.


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