Friday 30 September 2016

Muldoon goes for one more year

John Fallon

Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30

Bundee Aki sees the funny side of things during a Connacht training session this week. Photo: Sportsfile
Bundee Aki sees the funny side of things during a Connacht training session this week. Photo: Sportsfile

It may only be the halfway point in the campaign but Pat Lam has already laid a solid foundation for next season with about two-thirds of the 2016-17 squad signed up.

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The announcement yesterday that John Muldoon is on board for a 14th campaign next season is further testimony to a strong recruitment campaign which has been ongoing.

The promotion of five academy players - Rory Parata, Shane Delahunt, James Connolly, Peter Robb and Sean O'Brien - means that there are now 27 of the 40 man senior squad in place for next season, with more retentions and new signings expected in the coming weeks.

Muldoon's announcements follows the recent re-signing of the likes of Tiernan O'Halloran, Kieran Marmion and Matt Healy, while centre Eoin Griffin is returning after a two-year stint with London Irish.

Ten forwards - Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Denis Buckley, Ronan Loughney, Nathan White, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Eoin McKeon and Eoghan Masterson - are also signed up for next season, either through existing contracts or extensions announced in recent months.

Seven other backs are also on board for next season, again through existing contracts or new deals, with Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokum, Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki, Dave McSharry, Jack Carty and Caolin Blade committed for the 2016-17 campaign.

Meanwhile, Connacht will be bidding to get rid of another bogey when they travel to play league leaders Scarlets on Sunday.

Connacht have not won in seven visits to Parc y Scarlets but in a season where they won for the first time at Liberty Stadium and also ended their famine at Thomond Park, Lam will hope for another breakthrough.

Connacht initially enjoyed a good record at Stradey Park in Llanelli, winning and drawing their first two league games there and also winning a Celtic Cup time at the famed Welsh venue.

They lost their first game to the Scarlets in Wales at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham before losing twice at Stradey.

Connacht were the first visitors to the new Parc y Scarlets on the outskirts of the town but have enjoyed no luck at the venue in seven visits, only twice coming away with losing bonus points.

Irish Independent

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