High-flying Connacht’s injuries clear up for away URC clash with Edinburgh


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

High-flying Connacht’s injuries clear up for away URC clash with Edinburgh High-flying Connacht’s injuries clear up for away URC clash with Edinburgh


CONNACHT have received a fitness boost as they bid to make it four wins on the spin at the start of a season for only the second time ever with half-backs Caolin Blade and JJ Hanrahan among several players cleared for selection as they prepare to travel to Edinburgh.

Flanker Shamus Hurley-Langton, who went off after just two minutes after a head clash with Ulster debutant Reuben Crothers, is also available after coming through the HIA protocols, along with lock Oisin Dowling who came off with a calf injury.

Home wins over Ospreys, Glasgow and Ulster have matched the start Connacht made to the league in 2014-15 and now they have their sights set on their best ever opening which came in 2002-03 when they won their five opening matches.

Back then they scored one point wins over Borders, Cardiff and Bridgend, had two points to spare over Leinster and beat Newport by six before suffering a 40-0 home defeat to Pontypridd.

This season Connacht had identical 34-26 winning margins in their opening games against Ospreys and Glasgow before coming from 17 points down to pip Ulster 22-20 on Saturday evening and now put their winning start on the line against Wilkins’ former club Edinburgh after making the most of three successive home games.

“It was only going to be a good opportunity if we took advantage of that,” said Wilkins. “We are really pleased to get the wins, momentum is important in the competition in the context of our season and in terms of having a new coaching group, and obviously everything that goes with that.

“But as we saw last season it is a long old body of work that gets you through to the top eight and hopefully knockout games, so we need to keep moving in that direction.”

Hanrahan was injured when he landed awkwardly catching ball against Glasgow, with skipper Jack Carty coming in to start last weekend. Blade, who scored a hat-trick in the opening game against Ospreys, went off with ankle injury on Saturday night.

Pictured: Connacht hooker Denis Buckley, who has Joe Joyce in support, on the charge against Ulster’s Harry Sheridan during the URC encounter at the Sportsground on Saturday. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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