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Connacht primed for huge performance against Glasgow in PRO12 semi-final

Dara Bradley

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Team captain John Muldoon and second row Ultan Dillane who will be hoping to help Connacht to an historic place in the Guinness PRO 12 final when they renew rivalry with Robert Harley and Leone Nakarawa of Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground on Saturday.

AHEAD of their historic Guinness Pro 12 semi-final against Glasgow Warriors at a sold-out Sportsground on Saturday (6.30pm), Connacht will do what they always do prior to every game.

Just before the referee blows the whistle to signal to players it’s time to leave the dressing room and take to the field, Connacht, according to head coach Pat Lam, will stand, joined together, arm-in-arm in a huddle.

Self-assured that they can – and will – win, the players “will look at each other,” says the Samoan boss.

“And their belief is based not on ‘roar, roar’ belief, it’s based on ‘I know you well, I know what my job is, I know what we’ve got to do to win and I trust you’. That’s where the confidence and belief really comes strong.”

Aside from the momentous 14-7 victory over the Scots last Saturday week at College Road, Pat Lam’s Connacht had failed to beat Glasgow in the league. Can lightning strike twice in a fortnight?

Lam and his Connacht outfit that oozes confidence, certainly think so. This optimism is grounded in remaining true to his ‘process’, a concept Lam repeats in every media interview he has given since arriving in Galway.

So even though Lam admits this is “the biggest game in our history”, preparations didn’t alter. Connacht stuck to the tried and trusted ‘process’.

“The only way we get a chance to win is to go back and treat the week as a normal week. That’s how it’s always worked for us. We haven’t done anything special, gone on a camp or anything last week. It’s just another day; another game. We’ve got a great chance to win,” he says.

Preparations may not have changed but training has certainly intensified. Standards have been ratcheted up again – they’ve had to.

Lam knows there is ample scope for improvement in Glasgow, who were down to 14-men for a large chunk of the last match, and could have earned a draw.

“They are a quality side. They will be better. They’ll come here backing themselves and that’s why we challenged ourselves straight after the game. It’s on us as a coaching group and management team to make sure that we are spot-on with all our planning, and the environment we create. And then the players can go out there and not only enjoy the day, but really train well and prepare well. I’ve already seen that standard raised.”

Playing the same team in a row is never easy. But in order to reap a repeat result, Connacht has a few tricks up their sleeve, and will mix it up.

“We have to fire shots,” insists Lam. “There’s no point playing these games safely. You’ve got to put them under pressure. The object of the game is to score more points. To do that you’ve got to have something up your sleeve and we’ll have that alright.

“We don’t want to be known as that team that runs everything, or that kicks everything. You’ve got to have a game plan that has structures to attack from anywhere and defend from anywhere. Then it’s down to the players to have the execution.”

This is a momentous match, and competition to make the starting XV, which will be announced noon Friday, will be more intense than ever.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway’s senior panel strongly support the split-season formula

John McIntyre

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Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan who strongly favours a split-season between inter-county and club.

OVER 90% of the Galway senior camogie panel have voted in favour of a split-season between inter-county and club.

And the Tribeswomen will be standing firm with the other 11 senior counties in boycotting the upcoming National League if the Camogie Association doesn’t perform a U-turn on its controversial fixtures calendar.

The plan to run off the club championships between the National League and All-Ireland inter-county campaigns has sparked an outcry among the sport’s elite.

In response to widespread protests, the Camogie Association is currently carrying out a survey among its clubs and members before deciding on a final fixtures template.

Galway camogie captain Sarah Dervan has already nailed her colours to the mast in supporting the split-season formula.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht turn to South Africa for team’s new forwards coach

John McIntyre

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South African Dewald Senekai who will be Connacht's new Forwards Coach next season.

A 40 year-old South African is on his way to the Sportsground as Forwards Coach for the start of next season.

With Nigel Carolan and Jimmy Duffy departing the Connacht coaching staff at the end of the current campaign, the province has moved quickly to fill the void.

Already Connacht had moved Peter Wilkins (new Defence Coach), Colm Tucker and Mossy Lawler up through their own coaching ranks, but the need for an outside appointment remained paramount.

Dewald Senekal arrives with extensive coaching experience, most recently serving as Forwards Coach for Stade Francais in the Top 14 after taking over from Paul O’Connell in the role.

From 2017 to 2019 ,he was Joint Head Coach of Grenoble, leading them to promotion from Pro D2 to the Top 14 in his first season.

Senekai began his coaching career in 2015 as Forwards Coach of Bayonne where he finished a long playing career. He also lined out for French sides Toulon and Agen, and South African outfits, the Cheetahs and Lions.

Head Coach Andy Friend is delighted that the South African has signed up with Connacht. “Following an extensive recruitment process, we are thrilled that Dewald is joining the Connacht coaching team.

“He is an extremely impressive individual who will add a lot to the set-up, as well as providing a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas. I know the players will really enjoy working with him and the coaches likewise.

“Our coaching team is now complete with Dewald joining Pete, Mossy, Cullie and myself for the next two years, and we feel very optimistic about what we can achieve both as a group and in the club.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Resurgent Connacht relishing battle with vulnerable Leinster

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Connacht winger Alex Wootton who has recovered from injury and is available for Saturday's Rainbow Cup clash against Leinster at the Sportsground.

By Rob Murphy

TAKE a breath of the fresh air that surrounds the Connacht rugby team right now and you’ll get the unmistakable impression that they are relishing the Rainbow Cup competition.

Leinster arrive in Galway on Saturday evening for round two of the six game end of season tournament, licking their wounds after another Champions Cup semi final heartbreaker, while the westerners are looking for a second straight inter-provincial win.

Now let’s not oversell this. The Rainbow Cup has not gone to plan by any means, with the South African sides pulling out of the hastily arranged tournament at the last minute turning it into a six game rehash of the usual fixture, but for Andy Friend and his management team it has been a case of perfect timing for a group that really were looking for a reset button before breaking up for the summer after a long 12 months.

Two weeks on from the victory over Ulster in Ravenhill, the shouts and chirping from the pitch on College Road in Galway are no doubt that bit louder as they bellow across Bohermore and Lough Atalia. A win can do a lot for the mood of a group of athletes. The defeat to Leicester in the Challenge Cup is a distant memory and the next few weeks are about building confidence and developing new patterns. Friend is enjoying the process.

“We are pushing hard in the last few weeks and that’s a compliment to our coaching staff as well as the players. We are in the middle of three inter-pros and that’s how we are looking at it. Yes it’s the Rainbow Cup as well but first and foremost they are games with a lot to play for anyways.” noted Friend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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