Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce that Tiernan O’Halloran, Sean O’Brien and Tom Farrell have all signed contract extensions with the province taking them up to the end of the 2021/22 season.
 
The three signings come as a further boost to Connacht as they face Leinster this weekend in the Sportsground and then return to Champions Cup action at home to Montpellier at home on Sunday week.
 
O’Halloran is a product of the Connacht system having played his club rugby with Connemara RFC before going on to join the Connacht Academy. The 28 year old full back has made 175 appearances for his province and has been capped six times for Ireland.
 
Sean O’Brien has followed a similar path having played his underage rugby with Galwegians RFC. The 24 year old Connacht native has made almost 60 appearances in the Connacht jersey since making his senior debut in 2015. O’Brien has previously represented Ireland at Under 18, 19 and 20 level.
 
Centre Tom Farrell joined Connacht in 2017 and has gone on to make 55 appearances for Connacht. His impressive form over the past two seasons saw him named in Ireland’s Six Nations Squad in March 2019.
 
Commenting on the three contract extensions, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We are delighted to announce that Tiernan, Sean and Tom have all committed to Connacht for a further two seasons. These three players are key to our ambitions and their signings are a statement of belief in what we are trying to achieve. We have made a positive start to the season so far but have some vital Pro14 and Champions Cup in the coming weeks. These signings are a great boost for the rest of the squad and everyone who supports Connacht Rugby”.
 

Connacht centre Tom Farrell is set for his first start of the Guinness PRO14 season as his side travel to Swansea to take on the Ospreys on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm). Farrell is included following his two tries against the Cheetahs in The Sportsground last weekend.
 
Farrell and his midfield partner Peter Robb are included in a back line that also includes winger Niyi Adeolokun who finished the Cheetahs game as Man of the Match after scoring one try and setting up a second. He is part of a back three that includes John Porch on the opposite wing and Darragh Leader who has returned from injury to take his place at full back.
 
The impressive Conor Fitzgerald continues at out-half alongside Kieran Marmion who has scored three tries in the opening four games of the season.
 
In the pack, injury has forced Head Coach Andy Friend to make a number of changes for the trip to Wales. Dominic Robertson McCoy replaces Finlay Bealham at tighthead, while there is a new second row with Ultan Dillane and Joe Maksymiw coming in from the start.
 
There is a settled look about the back row, where Captain Jarrad Butler is named at openside with Eoghan Masterson at blindside and Paul Boyle at number 8.
 
Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said; “Our squad is in confident mood after three bonus point wins in a row. We have a few changes from the win over Cheetahs last weekend, but I am really happy with the depth we have in the squad and how we have performed so far”.
 
“Our win away to Dragons in Round Two was our first in Wales in a while so we will be looking to back that up with a win this weekend. Ospreys are a very competitive side especially when they are at home. We saw that last season when we played them over there, so we face a really tough test. We have Leinster and Montpellier coming up in the Sportsground over the next two weekends, so it is important for us to keep winning going into those games”.
 
 
Connacht Matchday Squad V Ospreys (Sat 2 NOV, 5.15PM)

(15-9): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, John Porch, Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion.
(1-8): Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Cillian Gallagher, Robin Copeland, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald.

The Guinness PRO14 Dream Team will be revealed tomorrow night in a TV special broadcast on Premier Sports 1 and eir sport 1.
 
A panel of over 75 media members were invited to take part in the voting. A group that included many former players and coaches alongside some of the most trusted and respected writers involved in covering rugby from across the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa.
 
The voting has now closed and three nominees have been identified at every position for the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team with 12 teams represented across all five participating countries.
 
The voting has been closer than ever thanks to the rich form of the near 300 internationals who compete in the Championship each season. The 2018/19 season has seen heightened levels of competitiveness across the Guinness PRO14 with Benetton Rugby becoming the first Italian team to reach the knock-out stages which saw Kieran Crowley voted as the Coach of the Season by his peers while the club also have seven nominations.
 
Benetton received the highest nominations, followed by Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh (both six), Ulser, Munster and Connacht (all with five).
 
The best talent from eir sport and Premier Sport will break down the Dream Team selections and discuss who has rightly won their spot, and who was unlucky to miss out. Murray Kinsella, Rory Lawson, Sean Holley and Luke Fitzgerald, who were all part of the 75-plus voting panel, will come together for this TV special to voice their opinions on the best performers in the Guinness PRO14.
 
Please note: The show will be broadcast on Premier Sports 1 at 20:00 in the UK and on eir sport 1 at 19:00 in the Rep of Ireland.
 
Nominations (listed by alphabetical order):
 
Loosehead Prop
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster); Eric O’Sullivan (Ulster); Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh)
 
Hooker
Epalahame Faiva (Benetton Rugby); Rob Herring (Ulster); Ken Owens (Scarlets)
 
Tighthead Prop
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby)
 
Second Row
Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby)
 
Second Row
Scott Fardy (Leinster); Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors); Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
 
Blindside Flanker
Max Deegan (Leinster); Peter O’Mahony (Munster); Josh Turnbull (Cardiff Blues)
 
Openside Flanker
Colby Fainga’a (Connacht), Braam Steyn (Benetton); Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)
 
No 8
Marcel Coetzee (Ulster), Bill Mata (Edinburgh), CJ Stander (Munster)
 
Scrum-Half
Caolin Blade (Connacht); John Cooney (Ulster); Dewaldt Duvenage (Benetton)
 
Out-half
Jack Carty (Connacht); Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors); Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh)
 
Left Wing
Darcy Graham (Edinburgh); James Lowe (Leinster); Rabz Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs)
 
Inside Centre
Bundee Aki (Connacht); Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues); Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)
 
Outside Centre
Tom Farrell (Connacht); Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues); Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors)
 
Right Wing
Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby); Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets); Ratuva Tavuyara (Benetton Rugby)
 
Full Back
Dan Evans (Ospreys); Mike Haley (Munster); Matthew Morgan (Cardiff Blues)

Voting is now OPEN for the Connacht Rugby 2018/19 Supporters’ Player of the Year Award, sponsored by Elverys.
 
Three players who have excelled on the field this year have been put forward for nomination by the official Connacht supporters group The Connacht Clan, and now it’s up to you to decide who’ll receive the accolade.
 
Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell are your three nominees, so to vote just pick who you think deserves the award in the link below. Voting closes at lunchtime on Thursday 11th April.
 
The winner will be announced at the sold-out Connacht Rugby Awards Ball at The Salthill Hotel in Galway this Saturday!
 

Who should win the 2018/19 Connacht Rugby Supporters' Player of the Year Award?

Check out all the highlights from Saturday’s impressive 46-5 win over the Ospreys at a windy Sportsground – a result that has sent Andy Friend’s side back into the playoff spots with just four games to play.
 

Connacht have been boosted by the return of Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade from international duty and are named in the Connacht squad to play Ospreys in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick Off 2:45pm).
 
Dillane and Roux continue their second row partnership that started the Six Nations game against Italy last weekend. They join a front five that includes props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham with Shane Delahunt coming in at hooker.
 
The back row remains unchanged from the game against Glasgow, with captain Jarrad Butler starting at number 8 and Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
 
Kieran Marmion starts his second game in a row at scrum half after returning from injury. He forms a half back partnership with Kyle Godwin who comes in at out half.
 
In the midfield Peter Robb gets his first start of the season after impressing off the bench last time out. He is joined in the centre by the returning Tom Farrell.
 
The back three is unchanged with Stephen Fitzgerald and Matt Healy on the wings and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.
 
With Connacht sitting three points ahead of Ospreys in Conference A of the PRO14, Head Coach Andy Friend knows how important a home win could prove against their conference rivals; “We have trained well and prepared well this week. We have seen a really positive response from the players after a disappointing result last weekend in Glasgow. We will continue to focus on our game and what we can control, as we have done all season. We know every game now is a must win and with a two week break before our next game we are determined to finish this block on a high”, Friend said.
 
Commenting on his team selection, he added: “We are boosted by four of our players coming back from international duty. They bring a huge amount of experience to our match day squad”, he added.
 
#CONvOSP
Kick-off 2:45pm:
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Stephen Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell, Peter Robb, Matt Healy, Kyle Godwin, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (Capt).
Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Cian Kelleher.

Ultan Dillane, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty and Tom Farrell have all been named in the Connacht starting team for tomorrow’s vital Guinness PRO14 inter-conference clash with the Toyota Cheetahs at The Sportsground on Saturday (k/o 5.30pm). Andy Friend’s side is also boosted by the return from injury of Kieran Marmion who is named among the replacements.
 
Captain Jarrad Butler is again named at number 8 in a back row that includes flankers Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a. Ultan Dillane, who impressed off the bench against Scotland in the Six Nations last week, is partnered in the second row by James Cannon. Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham complete the pack in the front row.
 
In the backs Caolin Blade and Jack Carty renew their half-back partnership while Tom Daly starts alongside Tom Farrell in midfield. In the back three there’s a first Connacht start for loan signing Stephen Fitzgerald on the wing, with Cian Kelleher on the opposite wing and Darragh Leader at full-back.
 
Having beaten the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein before Christmas, Head Coach Andy Friend is under no illusions as to the challenge his side face to complete a double over their Conference rivals.
 
“Since we played them earlier in the season they have been improving steadily and have the results to show for it”, Friend reflected. “They are real contenders in the conference now, so we know the important of this game in the context of the overall season”.
 
“They are a really hard team to play against and even trying to review them can be difficult. They seem to play so off the cuff that it can be difficult to predict what they are going to do next. We know the threat they pose in attack so we will face a huge challenge”.
 
CONNACHT TEAM & REPLACEMENTS (v Toyota Cheetahs, Guinness PRO14, The Sportsground, Saturday February 16th, kick-off 5.30pm):
 
15. Darragh Leader 14. Cian Kelleher 13. Tom Farrell 12. Tom Daly 11. Stephen Fitzgerald
10. Jack Carty 9. Caolin Blade 1. Denis Buckley 2. Tom McCartney 3. Finlay Bealham 4. Ultan Dillane 5. James Cannon 6. Eoin McKeon 7. Colby Fainga’a 8. Jarrad Butler (Capt)
 
Replacements: 16. Dave Heffernan 17. Peter McCabe 18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Cillian Gallagher 20. Paul Boyle 21. Kieran Marmion 22. Conor Fitzgerald 23. Kyle Godwin
 

The recent performances of Jack Carty, Caolin Blade and Tom Farrell for Connacht have been recognised with a call-up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations. The inclusion of Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane brings to five the total number of Connacht named in the 38 man squad.
 
Half-backs Carty and Blade have both come through the Connacht Academy after representing Buccaneers RFC and Monivea RFC respectively at youth level, with Blade going on to play for Galwegians.
 
Carty made his Connacht debut in September 2012, the same year he featured for the Ireland U20s at the Junior World Championship. In total he has played 119 times for Connacht and has enjoyed a fine season so far, sitting in 2nd place for most points scored in the Guinness PRO14.
 
Blade’s first Connacht appearance came in December 2014 and has gone on to make 82 appearances for the province, and also represented Ireland at U18 Clubs and U19 level. He is the only player to feature in all 18 of Connacht’s games this season after continuing to impress at scrum-half.
  
Tom Farrell is selected in midfield after a stellar run of form in his second full season at Connacht. He joined from English Championship side Bedford mid-way through the 2016/17 season and has continued to feature heavily.
  
Ultan Dillane will be hoping to add to the 11 Ireland caps – He made his international debut against England in the 2016 Six Nations.
  
Bundee Aki who has been ever-present in the Ireland midfield since starting against South Africa in the 2017 November Series, is also named in Joe Schmidt’s squad.
 
Commenting on the team announcement, head coach Joe Schmidt said, “It’s been great to watch the provincial teams doing so well in recent weeks. With another very competitive round of EPCR this weekend, the following Ireland squad for the first two matches of the Six Nations has been selected, knowing that late changes may be required, depending on how the matches go in the weekend. There have been a number of tight calls across almost every position.
 
IRELAND squad 2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship Rounds 1 & 2
 
Forwards (21)
Rory Best (Ulster/Banbridge) 113 caps (c)
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 4 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 11 caps
Sean Cronin (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 65 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 11 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 28 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 84 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Queens University) 42 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 24 caps
Jack McGrath (Leinster/St Marys College) 53 caps
Jordi Murphy (Ulster/Lansdowne) 26 caps
Sean O’Brien (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 52 caps (vc)
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 11 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 21 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
John Ryan (Munster/Cork Constitution) 16 caps
Niall Scannell (Munster/Dolphin) 11 caps
CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 28 caps
Devin Toner (Leinster/Lansdowne) 63 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
 
Backs (17)
Will Addison (Ulster/Enniskillen) 3 caps
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 12 caps
Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 0 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 16 caps
Jack Carty (Connacht/Buccaneers) 0 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 10 caps
John Cooney (Ulster/Terenure College) 4 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 72 caps
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 3 caps
Tom Farrell (Connacht/TBC) 0 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 36 caps
Rob Kearney (Leinster/UCD) 87 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 67 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 17 caps
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Marys College) 78 caps (vc)
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 14 caps

Match report from the GUINNESS PRO14
 
Connacht clinched a third successive Guinness PRO14 victory for the first time since March 2017 with a 21-17 victory over Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
 
In an open contest, the Irishmen unearthed a ruthless streak before the break as Tom Farrell and Gavin Thornbury’s tries proved enough to earn Connacht’s first victory over the Free State side on South African soil.
 
Cheetahs’ Shaun Venter provoked a late rallying call for the hosts with a try ten minutes from the end, but it proved in vain as the hosts fell to a seventh loss of the season.
 
Connacht flew out the blocks and they had the lead inside six minutes when Farrell skipped his way through the Cheetahs pack before spectacularly dummying his way around Malcolm Jaer to reach the try line. Jack Carty kicked for two.
 
Cheetahs steadily grew into the game and they almost broke back when Darren Adonis made his way to the line but was thwarted by a crunching challenge from Niyi Adeolokun.
 
Carty extended the lead with his boot midway through the tie before Thornbury struck a telling blow by bursting over the line with a rolling maul to score his first try of the season.
 
Cheetahs finally took one of their chances when the ball was threaded to speedster Jaer to guile his way over the whitewash and hold off an injured Adeolokun to reduce the deficit to 15-5.
 
Then when Connacht carelessly gave away a penalty in their own half, Cheetahs grasped the chance to score again as Joseph Dweba bulldozered his way down the blindside of the maul to score his fourth career try.
 
Both Cheetahs and Connacht threatened after the break, but a spate of individual handling errors scuppered the try scoring ability of both sides until replacement David Horwitz kicked a 57th minute penalty.
 
Another defensive error from the Cheetahs, this time from Joseph Dweba for not releasing, allowed Horwitz to kick his second penalty of the afternoon and stretch Connacht’s advantage to 21-10.
 
Franco Smith’s men began to fade, but out of nowhere with under ten minutes to go William Small-Smith popped up to bring the game back to life as he released Venter away to score the only try of the second half. Tian Schoeman converted, but it proved too little too late to have an effect.

Back row Robin Copeland is set to make his Connacht debut as Andy Friend’s side take on Scarlets in the Guinness PRO14 in the Sportsground on Saturday (Kick off 5:15pm).

Copeland’s inclusion is one of six changes to the Connacht side that took on Edinburgh last weekend. Irish International Bundee Aki is also included in the starting XV having come off the bench in Murrayfield to make his first appearance of the season. Aki forms a midfield partnership with Tom Farrell who returns after recovering from a stomach bug that ruled him out last weekend.

Winger Cian Kelleher is named on the wing and is part of a back three that includes Matt Healy on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full back.

Prop Denis Buckley is back in at loosehead to make his third start of the season while Gavin Thornbury is named alongside Quinn Roux in the second row.

Copeland’s inclusion at number 8 sees him named in a back row that also features team captain Jarrad Butler at openside and blindside Sean O’Brien.

Commenting on Copeland’s impending debut, Head Coach Andy Friend said: “We have been really impressed with Robin in the pre-season both on and off the field. His energy and maturity have been a big addition to the wider group. He played 40 minutes for the Eagles side last weekend and he came through that ok after a niggly injury, so he is good to go for Scarlets”.

With last season’s finalists Scarlets and Leinster visiting the Sportsground over the next two weekends, Friend said: “Scarlets are a quality side and we expect a huge challenge from them. They are one of the top teams in this competition, so it is a massive game for us. We have a really healthy competition in our squad at the moment and that is exactly what we need as the big games keep coming”.

 

#CONvSCA

Kick-off 5:15pm:

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler, Robin Copeland.

Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun.

Related

Aki retains Ireland spot for Triple Crown decider in Twickenham

Caolin Blade to Captain Connacht for clash with Ulster in Belfast
CBlade

Caolin Blade to Captain Connacht for clash with Ulster in Belfast

5 months ago
Farrell set for first start of the season as Connacht travel to Ospreys
GuinnessPro14

Farrell set for first start of the season as Connacht travel to Ospreys

7 months ago
Travelling squad announced for Oyonnax pre-season friendly
OYOvCON

Travelling squad announced for Oyonnax pre-season friendly

10 months ago