Sunday 4 December 2016

Leader, Carr and McKeon back to help end Eagles' woe

Published 16/01/2016 | 02:30

Connacht's Eoin McKeon (SPORTSFILE)
Connacht's Eoin McKeon (SPORTSFILE)

Nigel Carolan could do with all the help he can get with his struggling Connacht Eagles side so he will be relieved to be able to welcome back three key senior players from injury.

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Darragh Leader, Fionn Carr and Eoin McKeon have all returned to start in the Sportsground this afternoon (1.00)

The Eagles are rooted to the foot of their pool and are without a single point from their four games.

Their task doesn't get any easier as they play host to leaders Doncaster Knights.

Carolan has made nine changes in total to the side that were beaten in Jersey last month and he will be hoping that the senior trio can provide the catalyst to end their wretched run of form.

Former Grenoble player Shane O'Leary is given a chance to impress at out-half while the academy's Conor Lowndes is his half-back partner.

Shane Delahunt skippers the side from hooker and forms a front row with young props Conan O'Donnell and Conor Kenny.

Danny Qualter is named in the second row with Cillian Gallagher while Cian Romaine is promoted to the back-row where he joins Rory Moloney and McKeon.

It's been another very difficult campaign for the Eagles but Carolan has proven in the past that his young players are being primed for the senior side and that is shown in their good season to date.

And for that reason, Carolan is remaining optimistic about his side's chances of causing an upset.

"We performed well against Doncaster when we travelled to play them in November," Carolan recalled.

"They are top of what is a tough pool but we will be hoping that we can convert our opportunities into scores."

There hasn't been much evidence this season to suggest that Connacht can do that.

Verdict: Doncaster Knights

Connacht Eagles - D Leader; F Carr, C Brennan, A Pewhairangi, C Gaffney; S O'Leary, C Lowndes; C O'Donnell, S Delahunt (capt), C Kenny; C Gallagher, D Qualter; C Romaine, R Moloney, E McKeon. Reps: D Heffernan, J Walshe, M Kelly, M Cosgrove, S Keirns, C McKeon, E O'Keefe.

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