Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nearly show-time at the Sportsground!

Our Connacht man John O’Sullivan can’t wait for the season to get going.

connacht eagles

The start of the season is so close, I already feel the nasty bite of the infamous Sportsground wind on my skin. Indeed, Connacht's opening Rabo Direct Pro 12 fixture, at home to Cardiff Blues, is only a matter of days away.

Since my last post, Connacht's pre season preparations have been stepped up a gear. Two fixtures against English opposition, Exeter and Harlequins, have provided vital tests and lessons for Connacht, albeit in two contrasting ways:

Firstly, Connacht will take great heart from their dogged 8-6 win over Exeter. Connacht showed all the tenacity and desire usually associated with the province, but also an end product which, sadly, has often failed to match Connacht's aforementioned doggedness and desire.

If our victory over Exeter raised hope within the squad, then their subsequent 11-45 tonking at the hands of Harlequins, old foes and future Heineken Cup pool opponents for the second season in succession, brought them back down to earth with a bang.

It must be remembered, though, that Harlequins are English champions and will be one of the favourites for the upcoming season’s European crown. The old sporting cliché says you'll learn more about yourself in defeat than in victory, with that in mind, Connacht's youngsters will benefit from the experience of playing some top internationals.

Heartened by the progress of the province’s underage teams over the past few years, Connacht have invested both time and money in their academy set up. Indeed, the formation of the Connacht Eagles, a Connacht A side who will play in the British and Irish Cup, is another positive step for the rapidly greening Westerners. Not content with the kudos for setting up the Eagles, Connacht had to make a statement on the pitch; and that they did, beating Munster A 13-6 at the Sportsground (pic courtesy of knockon.ie). The Eagles will provide players with a vital bridge between U-20's and the senior side and will, no doubt, provide the necessary grounding and experience for many a future Connacht star.

And finally, Gavin Duffy has been rewarded for his tremendous consistency by retaining the Connacht captaincy for a second successive season. The Mayo man has been the epitome of calmness at full backs for Connacht for years and will, undoubtedly, provide many more years or sterling service.

To paraphrase the clubs marketing motto: the West is about to rise, its nearly show time!

Today’s Independent = Elwood sweats on Dan Parks’ fitness

Keep an eye on Twitter & Facebook throughout the season, John’s posts will appear at 9am every Tuesday.

I’m John O’Sullivan, 20. Part time student, full time sports nut. Crazily addicted to Liverpool F.C. My forte is obscure sporting facts. For example, not many people seem to know that Alfredo Di Stefano had an Irish grandmother. Love rugby and am currently the PRO of Connemara R.F.C. I also do some radio work for my local radio station. One day, I would love to be a Sports Journalist/Broadcaster. I would like to thank Jeff for giving me the chance to cover my beloved Connacht on ‘Harpin2’ Looking forward to a great season!

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