Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Setback for Connacht but future still looks bright

Connacht couldn’t quite get things going in Newport, writes John O’Sullivan

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Connacht resumed their League campaign with a defeat to the lowly Newport Gwent Dragons. Indeed, as the Dragons had lost their previous seven games on the bounce, the defeat will hurt Connacht. The game, played in abysmal conditions at Rodney Parade, was a battle of attrition, as flowing rugby was made nearly impossible thanks to the swirling wind and torrential rain.

Coming from Galway as they do, one would have thought the visitors would be used to playing in such challenging conditions, as the Sportsground at the best of times can resemble a quagmire. The Dragons’, though, managed the weather better and with youngster Tom Prydie on form they secured a crucial victory. Prydie, who is the youngest capped Welsh player in history, added three penalties and converted Patrick Leach’s try.

Connacht took the lead through a Dan Parks penalty, and had a number of chances to score throughout the game, particularly through Tiernan O’Halloran, but the Westerners lost their composure at vital junctures.  They will also be concerned with their discipline throughout the game; both Andrew Browne and Jason Harris Wright were sin binned, and Leach’s try came when Connacht were down to 13 men.

Eric Elwood will be hoping for improvements with the Biarritz game looming large on the horizon and, firstly, the visit of Edinburgh to Galway next weekend.

In other Connacht related news, it was fantastic to see Mike McCarthy’s performances in Ireland’s November tests against South Africa and Argentina. McCarthy was imperious in the first test against South Africa and, although his second row partner, Donnacha Ryan, took all the plaudits, was solid and industrious against Argentina.

McCarthy’s ascendancy to the Irish squad sets a precedent for the rest of the Connacht squad to follow. Unlike previous Connacht squads, there is now a benchmark to aspire to; Connacht players will know, should they impress sufficiently, that their chance with Ireland will come.

There was more good news off the pitch for Connacht, as two of the province’s promising youngsters have committed themselves to Connacht for a further two years. Kieran Marmion has been superb for Connacht this season ,and should he develop as quickly in the next two years as he has in the last few months then Connacht, undoubtedly, have a future Irish and Lions scrum half. Promising young prop Denis Buckley has also committed the next two years of his fledgling career to Connacht. Although Buckley hasn’t been exposed to first team action as much as Marmion, he has still shown signs of quality in his appearances. It’s wholeheartedly encouraging that young players see their future at the Western Province. The likes of Marmion, O’Halloran, Henshaw and Buckley being exposed to Heineken Cup action will inspire future generations.

I’m John O’Sullivan, 20. Part time student, full time sports nut. Love rugby and am currently the PRO of Connemara RFC. I also do some radio work for my local station. One day, I would love to be a Sports Journalist/Broadcaster.

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