Tuesday 27 September 2016

The top 10 moments from Connacht's historic season

Published 03/06/2016 | 02:30

Connacht players celebrate following their side's victory in the Guinness PRO12 Final match. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht players celebrate following their side's victory in the Guinness PRO12 Final match. Photo: Sportsfile

October 23, 2015: Ospreys 16 Connacht 21

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With less disruption from international call-ups than most Pro12 sides during the World Cup, Connacht maintained their strong start and climbed to second in the table with their first win away to the Ospreys since 2004.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran (capt, N Adeolokun, 14, R Parata, 65); D Leader, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, S Delahunt (D Heffernan, 62), R Ah You (F Bealham, 70), Q Roux (U Dillane, 61), A Muldowney, E McKeon (J Muldoon, 50), E Masterson, N Fox Matamua.

November 14, 2015: Enisei-STM 14 Connacht 31

Connacht’s 12,000km round-trip to Russia for their Challenge Cup clash with Enisei-STM ended with a bonus-point win in sub-zero conditions but travel chaos interrupted their return home. However, rather than breaking them, it bonded them.

CONNACHT – D Leader, R Parata, B Aki (C Ronaldson 55), P Robb, N Adeolokun, A MacGinty, I Porter (C Blade 62), D Buckley (R Loughney 58), S Delahunt (D Heffernan 19-27, 65), F Bealham (C O’Donnell 68), U Dillane, A Muldowney (D Qualter 68), J Muldoon (S O’Brien 58), J Connolly, G Naoupu.

November 28, 2015: Munster 12 Connacht 18

Bundee Aki beat his chest in defiance after scoring the all-important try to end a 29-year wait for a win in Limerick, a win which made Connacht players believe that something special could be on the cards.

CONNACHT – R Henshaw; T O’Halloran (D Leader 69), B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy; AJ MacGinty (J Carty 47), K Marmion; D Buckley (R Loughney 55), S Delahunt (D Heffernan 62), N White (F Bealham 59); U Dillane (G Naoupu 64), A Muldowney J Muldoon (capt), J Connolly, E Masterson (S O’Brien 57).

January 30, 2016:  Connacht 30 Scarlets 17

Having lost three league games on the bounce, to Ulster, Leinster and Scarlets, the Westerners bounced back to keep their top four aspirations alive with a superb 30-17 defeat of the Welsh side at the Sportsground.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran; D Poolman, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy (R Parata, 30); J Carty (C Ronaldson, 66), C Blade (I Porter, 74); D Buckley (R Loughney, 67), T McCartney D Heffernan, 67), F Bealham (R Ah You, 62); G Naoupu (U Dillane, 58), A Muldowney; J Muldoon, J Heenan (J Connolly, 65), E Masterson

March 26, 2016: Connacht 7 Leinster 6

The Connacht rising hit new heights on Easter weekend when they went clear at the top of the Pro12 table with a gutsy performance to hold on under intense pressure in atrocious conditions against Leinster.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran (C Blade 66-71 temp); N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb (R Henshaw 49), M Healy; AJ MacGinty (S O’Leary 61), K Marmion (C Blade 75); D Buckley (R Loughney 70), T McCartney (D Heffernan 70), N White (F Bealham 6), Q Roux (50), A Muldowney, S O’Brien (J Connolly 66), J Muldoon (capt), E McKeon.

April 9, 2016: Grenoble 33 Connacht 32

Connacht led 19-3 and 29-13 before being edged out 33-32 in Grenoble. It was the bitterest of pills for Pat Lam’s side to swallow but their European exit forced the Samoan to fix their defence and lay the foundations for their Pro12 win.

CONNACHT – M Healy; N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, B Aki, D Poolman (F Carr 39); S O’Leary (P Robb 68), K Marmion (J Cooney 64); D Buckley (R Loughney 78), T McCartney (D Heffernan 72), F Bealham (JP Cooney 76); U Dillane (Q Roux 61), A Browne; S O’Brien (G Naoupu 71), J Connolly (R Loughney 61-71), J Muldoon (capt).

April 16, 2016: Connacht 35 Munster 14

The Fields of Athenry rang out around the Sportsground as Connacht secured their Champions Cup place when hammering Munster 35-14, playing an exciting and refreshing brand of rugby.

CONNACHT – R Henshaw; N Adeolokun, B Aki (F Carr 79), P Robb (J Carty 74), M Healy; S O’Leary, K Marmion (J Cooney 67); D Buckley (R Loughney 74), T McCartney (J Harris-Wright 74), F Bealham (JP Cooney 68), U Dillane, A Muldowney (A Browne 64), S O’Brien (J Connolly 72), E McKeon, J Muldoon (capt).

May 7, 2016: Connacht 14 Glasgow 7

A glorious season continued in Galway’s wind and rain as Connacht ended the nine-match winning run of champions Glasgow to book home advantage at the Sportsground in their first Pro12 semi-final.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, B Aki (P Robb 74), M Healy; AJ MacGinty (S O’Leary 54), K Marmion (J Cooney 66); R Loughney, T McCartney, F Bealham (R Ah You 3) (JP Cooney 52) (Q Roux 70); U Dillane (Q Roux 73), A Muldowney; S O’Brien (E McKeon 63), J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

May 21, 2016: Connacht 16 Glasgow 11

Connacht confirmed their superiority over the holders with a superb performance, led by man of the match Bundee Aki, to set up an All-Ireland final amid chaotic scenes at the Sportsground.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, B Aki (P Robb 72), M Healy; AJ MacGinty, K Marmion (J Cooney 60); R Loughney (R Ah You 65), T McCartney, F Bealham (D Heffernan 71), U Dillane (A Browne 61), A Muldowney; E McKeon (S O’Brien 61), J Heenan (JP Cooney 74), J Muldoon (capt).

May 28, 2016 Connacht 20 Leinster 10

Connacht claimed the first major trophy in their 121-year history with a scintillating attacking display as tries from Tiernan O’Halloran, Matt Healy and Niyi Adeolokun helped outclass Leinster from start to finish.

CONNACHT – T O’Halloran (S O’Leary 69-72); N Adeolokun, R Henshaw, B Aki, M Healy; AJ MacGinty, K Marmion (J Cooney 61) (P Robb 66); R Loughney (R Ah You 69), T McCartney (D Heffernan 72), F Bealham; U Dillane (A Browne 62), A Muldowney; E McKeon (S O’Brien h-t), J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt).

Irish Independent

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