The U18 Girls team to take on Ulster in Newforge, Belfast this Sunday has been named (k/o 2pm).

No. Player Club School
1 Ella Burns Tuam/Oughterard Dunmore Community School
2 Ellen O’Toole Westport RFC Sancta Maria College
3 Roisin Maher Creggs RFC Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
4 Grainne Hahessy Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
5 Sarah Mc Cormick Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey ,Crossmolina
6 Jemima Adams Verling Creggs RFC Colaiste Mhuire, Ballygar
7 Beibhinn Gleeson Tuam/Oughterard Scoil Bhríde, Mercy Secondary School, Tuam
8 Karly Tierney Tuam/Oughterard Salerno Secondary School, Salthill
9 Grainne Moran Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey ,Crossmolina
10 Clara Barrett Ballina RFC St Brendan’s Collage, Belmullet
11 Emily Foley Ballina RFC Jesus and Mary Secondary School ,Enniscrone
12 Eabha Nic Dhonncha ( C ) Tuam/Oughterard Scoil Chumsitheach Chiaráin
13 Molly Boote Tuam/Oughterard Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
14 Mila Sotoparra Ballina RFC St Josephs, Foxford
15 Hannah Clarke Tuam/Oughterard St Pauls, Oughterard
16 Nadine Fitzmaurice Creggs RFC Glenamaddy Community School(GCS)
17 Niamh Corless Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
18 Grainne O’ Rourke Tuam/Oughterard Presentation College,Currylea
19 Ella Greene Ballinasloe Ard Mhuire,Ballinasloe
20 Laura Hastings Tuam/Oughterard Presentation College, Headford
21 Rhona O’Dea Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
22 Sarah Purcell Creggs RFC Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
23 Cavina Maloney Gort RFC St Raphaels, Loughrea
Aisling Whyte Corinthians RFC St Brigids College Loughrea
Merisa Kiripati Buccaneers Colaiste Mhuire, Ballygar
Evanna Finn Corinthians RFC Yeats College,Galway
Ailish Quinn Ballina RFC St Mary’s Secondary School,Ballina
Abbie Murray Buccaneers Colaiste Chiarain
Coaching Ticket
Craig Hansberry Head Coach
Cathal Evans Backs Coach
Luke O’Donnell Skills Coach
Martin Staunton Forwards Coach
Natalie Fox Manager
Joe Smyth Physio
Hubert Kowalski S&C

Head Coach Barry Ruane and his management team have released their squad for this weekends Interpro fixture vs Ulster Rugby, Saturday May 7th, at Lurgan RFC (k/o 2.30pm)


Connacht Junior match day squad v Ulster:


15. Henry O’Toole – Connemara RFC

14. Alan Masterson – Westport RFC *

13. Eoghan Coyle – Creggs RFC

12. Ian Heanue – Connemara RFC

11. Ross Murphy Sweeney – Buccaneers RFC

10. Shane Purcell – Creggs RFC

9. Sam Walsh – Westport RFC

1. Aidan Leech – Creggs RFC

2. Hiram Wood Hennessy – Corinthians RFC

3. Craig Hansberry – Ballinrobe RFC

4. TJ Berry – Connemara RFC

5. Niall Staunton – Connemara RFC

6. Paul Lee – Connemara RFC

7. Brian Ruane – Tuam RFC

8. Brian Diffley – Creggs RFC (captain)



16. Sean Tonra – Castlebar RFC

17. Ian Staunton – Connemara RFC

18. Niall Carney – Tuam RFC

19. Marty Cummins – Dunmore RFC

20. Ryan O’Meara – Buccaneers RFC

21. Graham Lynch – Buccaneers RFC *

22. Mark Purcell – Creggs RFC

23. Conor Burns – Dunmore RFC

24. Fergus Galvin – Buccaneers RFC


*First Cap



Sean Higgins and Declan Slattery – Managers

Barry Ruane – Head Coach

Alan Bane – Forwards Coach

Eddie Walsh – Backs Coach

Damien Burke – Physio

Ulster 32
Connacht 12

Connacht were defeated 32-12 in a physically intense interprovincial clash in Belfast tonight.


Despite tries from Oran McNulty and Alex Wootton and excellent performances from Conor Oliver and Cian Prendergast, it was the hosts – who secured a bonus-point win via tries from Robert Baloucoune(2) Greg Jones and Declan Moore – who sealed the win.


Connacht were temporarily reduced to 14 men early on when Peter Sullivan was shown a yellow card for a high tackle. They showed great defensive resolve, however, to keep Ulster at bay with Sammy Arnold completing a big defensive set by winning a penalty with some great work at the breakdown.


Similarly, brilliant work from Kieran Marmion prevented a certain Ulster try when he showed tremendous recovery pace to not only tackle Ethan McIlroy close to the try line but also to force a knock-on.


Ulster eventually did advantage of the extra man, however, just as the sin bin period was about to elapse. After a break from Mike Lowry, Jones managed to barge over for a try that Nathan Doak converted to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.


With their tails up, the hosts made it two tries in quick succession when Moore went over from close range from the tail of a maul. Doak made no mistake from the tee and the Westerners found themselves 14-0 behind with the first period halfway over.


With their line out an effective launchpad for attacks, Connacht worked their way back into the game. With two strong carries from Oliver after the set-piece, the Westerners gained field position deep in the Ulster 22. The ball was then worked quickly to McNulty – who replaced Sullivan earlier – who showed pace and awareness to touch down for an unconverted try that brought back into the contest at 14-5.


It was Ulster who would have the final say of the half, however, with their third try of the evening. With the clock in red, the Northerners flung the ball wide to Baloucoune and the Irish international winger showed great pace to touch down. Doak converted and the away team went into the interval 21-5 behind after a physical half of rugby.


Connacht began the second period looking to play with pace and directness and they had their second try of the night six minutes into the half. Brilliant work from Oliver snagged Connacht a turnover from which they went on the attack.



Big carries from Oliver and Tietie Tuimauga brought the away team into the Ulster’s 22 and a clever line from Fitzgerald broke closer to their line before the out half exquisitely offloaded to Wootton for the try. Fitzgerald then converted and Connacht brought the score back to 21-12.


Ulster managed to gain the upper hand thereafter and had two further Doak penalties to show their efforts, bringing the score to 27-12 in the hosts’ favour.


The home team then had the final say and wrapped up their bonus point when Baloucoune collected a cross field kick to touch for an unconverted try to bring the final score to 32-12 for Ulster.

Connacht team:


15: John Porch
14: Peter Sullivan
13: Sammy Arnold
12: Tom Daly
11: Alex Wootton
10: Conor Fitzgerald
9: Kieran Marmion


8: Jarrad Butler
7: Conor Oliver
6: Cian Prendergast
5: Oisin Dowling
4: Niall Murray
3: Tietie Tuimauga
2: Shane Delahunt
1: Denis Buckley

Jordan Duggan for Buckley
Greg McGrath for Tuimauga
Oran McNulty for Sullivan
Leva Fifita for Murray
Paul Boyle for Butler
Jonny Murphy for Delahunt
Cathal Forde for Fitzgerald

Head coach Andy Friend says that Connacht are keen to right the wrongs of last weekend’s defeat to Glasgow Warriors when they face off us against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening.


The Australian described last Saturday’s performance in the 42-20 defeat at home to the Scottish team as unacceptable, given the strides the team and squad have made this season and the positive impression they wanted to make in front of a full house at the Sportsground. 


However, Friend is confident that Connacht – whose training sessions have been aggressive and intense, with players looking to make amends and put their hands up for selection – can get back to winning ways on Friday, despite acknowledging the many qualities of Ulster.


“We actually saw a response yesterday afternoon,” the former Australia Sevens coach said.


“We put it to bed yesterday morning. We had a lengthier team meeting yesterday morning. The players were good. They get it and they own it. Things were presented to them and conversations were had, but we parked it as of about 10:30 yesterday morning. 


“What we saw today was a much more energized team today like we’re used to seeing and what we thought we were going to see last Saturday.”


Friend says that the key to any win for the Westerners will be focusing on their own game and executing to the standard they know they can, rather than shaping their game plan depending on their opponents with the October win over the Westerners’ interprovincial rivals providing the template.


“It’s got to be about us. The last time we played Ulster at The Aviva, we had that hunger and physicality about us and we took the game to them and that’s what, unfortunately, you didn’t see last Saturday.


“It’s about us taking the game to Ulster. They’re a good team, so they don’t lose at the Kingspan very often. But we have shown, over the last few years, that if we do front up there and if we do play a brand of football with that physical edge to it, we actually can get wins against them. 


“So, it’s about us turning up and doing that.”


Meanwhile, back-row Jarrad Butler says that the Westerners’ trip to Ulster on Friday evening poses a massive challenge.


The Sportsground men won the sides’ last meeting 36-11 in a brilliant performance at The Aviva Stadium last October. 


And after three defeats in a row – including in Europe and the league – Butler hopes that the interprovincial in Belfast will spark Connacht back into a winning run of form.


“Yeah, it’s a massive challenge,” the former Brumbies flanker said.


“I think it’s exactly what we need to try and bounce back from last week and then a couple of close games before that as well. We really need to get ourselves back into the winner’s circle.


“I think Ulster are the perfect opposition for that. They have been outstanding for the past few games. They have been consistent, they have been playing really good footy. But like you said, we’ve had some really good results against Ulster. 


“I think back to the Aviva and we were able to put them under a lot of pressure, we were able to move forward and assert ourselves and we think if we can do that again, we can definitely get a good result, that’s for sure.”


Last weekend’s home defeat to the Glasgow Warriors – coupled with the narrow European reversals against Leicester Tigers and Stade Francais in the previous weekends – have provided lessons for Connacht and Butler believes they are ready to apply them when they lock horns with Ulster.


“There was a bit of extra physicality and energy this morning at the training session but it was good and it was warranted because we needed a kick up the rear end, you know what I mean?


“I think we have to be able to look back at that and say ‘hey, let’s not put ourselves in a position, sitting in the sheds, scratching our heads and wondering what happened out there for the last 80 minutes. We need to have a reaction.”

Senior coach Pete Wilkins says he expects an exciting game of Rugby when Connacht visit Ulster in a United Rugby Championship interprovincial on St. Stephens’ Day. 



The northern province are sure to be in buoyant form after consecutive European wins, including a huge victory away to Clermont Auvergne, and will be looking to extend their good run in front of their home fans.



Wilkins believes that Ulster, who will be looking for revenge after the Westerners defeated them 36-11 in their last meeting at the Aviva Stadium two months ago, will pose a different challenge to Connacht’s last two opponents — Stade Francais and Leicester — but the clash of the two attacking teams should make for an entertaining fixture.




“Yeah, you wouldn’t expect as much kicking(as the Stade Francais or Leicester games). Certainly, when we previewed them for the game earlier in the season in the Aviva and leading into this one, we would expect them to run the ball more, whether that’s in their half of the field or ours,” the Englishman said when asked whether Dan McFarland’s men’s style would contrast with the kind of tactics the Westerners have recently faced. 



“At the same time, they have very strong kickers, particularly off 9 in terms of Cooney and Doak, they got two guys there who may not kick as much as others teams, but when they do they are very effective with those contestable kicks and they look to apply pressure, if not in the air then certainly in the ruck and they will look to squeeze us there. 



“There are some similarities in their ability to squeeze the opposition team when they kick the ball to them, like Leicester, but certainly in terms of what they want to do with the ball, it’s a different profile.”



In the teams’ last meeting, on October 23rd at the Aviva Stadium, Connacht won thanks to a high tempo, attacking game plan. Wilkins believes this could provide the blueprint for another win, but with some slight alterations to the game plan.



“For us, it helps that we played them recently, in terms of us having really good familiarity with the game plan that we think worked well last time, and obviously we’ll look to make some tweaks to that this time, but at the same time try and reproduce the good bits from it. 



“But at the same time, it’s also recent enough in their memories that it will only fuel their fires to exact revenge. I think it promises to be a really good match-up and a really exciting game of Rugby.”




Meanwhile, back John Porch has praised the environment of up-skilling at Connacht and the hunger of the players to learn and improve their skillsets.



The Westerners, who endeavor to play with attacking verve and pace, are known to operate with a quick, skill-based game plan with all players — backs and forwards — contributing to attacking phases.



The Australian credits Pete Wilkins and Mossy Lawler not only — the senior coach and assistant attack and skills coach — with creating a game plan that allows the players to express themselves in attack, but also with helping individuals sharpen up their skills on the training pitch.


  “Pete Wilkins has done a really good job and Mossy Lawler has done a really good job on the attack,” Porch said.



“We’re trying to play an exciting brand of Rugby but it comes with a lot of intricacies and we’re really working hard in training to make sure that every week when we go out there we’re doing the stuff correctly to be able to play that style of Rugby. It’s entertaining for the outside, but it’s also entertaining for the people on the outside. 


“It’s all combined, yeah. It’s individual, it’s players working with coaches, players working with other players; building combinations, working on stuff that might be a little bit of a weakness for you, so when you go out there at the weekend, that sort of up-tempo, high-speed Rugby we want to play works for us.”

By John O’Sullivan 


Ulster 24

Connacht 26


Connacht began their Rainbow Cup campaign with a dramatic 26-24 win over Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.


A brace of tries from Caolin Blade as well as tries from Paul Boyle and Peter Sullivan secured the away team both the win and the try bonus point in a gutsy attacking performance. 


Trailing 24-21 going into the final play of the game, the visitors turned down a shot at goal and the possibility of drawing the game. Instead, they bravely kicked to the corner and — after securing the line out — they worked a move with culminated in Sullivan diving in to win the game with the last play of the game.


With the ball quick and track dry, Connacht started the game with an attacking ambition and their efforts were rewarded eight minutes in. 


After securing clean line out ball, the visitors launched a patient, probing move. With Boyle, Eoghan Masterson and Ultan Dillane making big incisions into Ulster territory, the Westerners established field position in the 22. 


The ball was eventually worked to Boyle and the captain — who recognised a gap in the host’s defensive line — burst through a would be tackle to touch down for a try that Carty converted with aplomb. 


Ulster worked their way back into the contest thereafter, however, and — after a period of sustained pressure — Irish international Jacob Stockdale crossed for a try in the corner after a well-constructed move. The conversion went wide, though, and Connacht held onto their lead at 7-5.


The home team pressed for more scores, but they found the Connacht defence — with Ben O’Donnell particularly impressive — stubborn and well drilled. 


But the Northern province didn’t relent and their pressure did eventually tell, however, when Rob Herring, at the tail of a rolling maul, touched down for a try. John Cooney made no mistake adding the extras and Ulster found themselves in the lead at 12-7, a score they held going into the half time break. 


The home team began the second half in a similar manner to which they ended the first and they only had to wait four minutes to dot down their third try of the evening. Irish international Billy Burns was the benefactor of quick ball and he crossed for the score near the touchline. The conversion was wide, but Connacht found themselves 17-7 down. 


With the introduction of Abraham Papali’i, the Westerners wrestled back the momentum. With a huge carry from the base of a scrum, the number 8 punctured through the Ulster defence. Blade, sensing a break was on, then showed a brilliant burst of speed and step to cut through and score a try. Tom Daly — who took over kicking responsibilities after Carty was yellow-carded — slotted the extras and Connacht brought themselves back into an entertaining contest, only trailing by three points at 17-14.


With their tails up, Connacht were attacking with pace and power and Papali’i was especially prominent in ensuring go forward ball. Dillane — whose line out prowess and ball carrying was sublime all evening — thought he was over when he burst through the defence and almost touched down. 


Once again, Blade was alive to the opportunity and picked from the next phase and crossed for the try. Replacement Conor Fitzgerald converted and Westerners retook the lead at 21-17.


In a tit for tat contest, Ulster were the next to score when replacement scrum-half Dave Shananhan showed pace to run in a converted try and the lead swapped hands again with Ulster leading 24-21 with five minutes remaining.


But Connacht weren’t to be denied and they showed intelligence and bravery to win the game at the death. Firstly, a captain’s calls saw the Westerners awarded a penalty in the Ulster half for hands on the ground. 


Fitzgerald turned down the shot at goal and the draw and kicked the corner. The line out was accurate and the away team established themselves position in the Ulster 22. The ball was worked wide and Marmion stabbed a grubber kick in behind and Sullivan — showing acrobatic skills — touched down for the game-winning score in the last play. 


Connacht team:



15: John Porch 

14: Ben O’Donnell 

13: Sean O’Brien 

12: Tom Daly 

11: Matt Healy 

10: Jack Carty

9: Caolin Blade 



8: Paul Boyle © 

7: Conor Oliver 

6: Eoghan Masterson 

5: Gavin Thornbury 

4: Ultan Dillane 

3: Finlay Bealham 

2: Dave Heffernan 

1: Jordan Duggan 


Replacements: Shane Delahunt for Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke for Duggan, Dominic Robertson McCoy for Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray for Gavin Thornbury, Abraham Papali’i for Boyle, Kieran Marmion for Blade, Conor Fitzgerald for Carty, Peter Sullivan for Matt Healy.


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