Thursday 8 December 2016

Pat Lam endears himself to Connacht faithful further with cúpla focail after Pro12 triumph

Published 28/05/2016 | 21:17

Connacht head coach Pat Lam celebrates following his side's victory in the Guinness PRO12 Final match between Leinster and Connacht at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Pat Lam celebrates following his side's victory in the Guinness PRO12 Final match between Leinster and Connacht at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has secured legendary status in Connacht after leading them to the biggest success in their history.

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The determination of Pat Lam's men to attack paid off with first-half scores from Tiernan O'Halloran and Niyi Adeolokun and they wrapped up victory when Matt Healy crossed after the break.

Leinster were looking to claim their fourth crown in three years but they could only muster a Jonny Sexton penalty and a late Sean Cronin try as they failed to rise to the occasion in front of a record final crowd of almost 35,000 at Murrayfield.

Connacht booked their place in the play-offs by topping the league table but before kick-off few gave Ireland's least successful province much hope against the Dublin powerhouse.

While the Edinburgh face-off was Leinster's ninth appearance in the final, their Galway rivals were making their first appearance in the competition's showpiece climax.

Speaking to TG4 after the game, Lam said: “It’s a lá bródúil do daoine Connacht!

“It’s an absolutely proud day for the people of Connacht. For the west of Ireland it’s wonderful. It’s what we dreamed about.

“The people who came here and the welcome we’ve had all season have been tremendous. The game sort of highlights what west of Ireland people are like.

“They work hard, and they work hard for each other. I’m very privileged and blessed to be part of it.”

Connacht were in no way awestruck by the big occasion and stayed true to their expansive style by taking the game to their more experienced rivals from the outset.

“It’s all about training these guys to go to the next level,” Lam told TG4.

“I’ve always said I wanted an international standard so if we get to a moment like this it’s not going to overawe them. They can all just get out there and do their thing.

“The boys have put in a lot of hours together, learning the game, learning how we can play. The boys put the extra time into doing skills and they’ve got the reward.

“The biggest thing is belief and belief comes from working hard. I’ve never worked with a team in my whole playing or coaching career that worked so hard.

“We might not have the most talent or experience, but, mate, if you’ve got the attitude and you’ve got the heart... and these guys have got it in abundance.”

Leinster boss Leo Cullen had no qualms with the result.

He said: "We turned the ball over too cheaply, but you can't take anything away from them, they were exceptional in taking the opportunities that they had.

"They showed a real desire to play for each other and defend for each other and we were chasing the game from a very early stage.

"We started OK, but some of our composure let us down. Our guys are gutted, they put a lot into this season and we'll just regroup together and find how we can be better moving forward."

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