Sport Six Nations

Sunday 25 September 2016

Watch: Connacht quintet 'humbled' to play part in Ireland's win over Italy

Tom Rooney

Published 13/03/2016 | 14:00

12 March 2016; Ireland's Finlay Bealham following his side's victory. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
12 March 2016; Ireland's Finlay Bealham following his side's victory. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Italy. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

By the final whistle of yesterday’s thumping victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium, Connacht accounted for one third of an Irish team that finally found its way back to winning ways.

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Perhaps it was only when the euphoria of the cathartic victory had subsided that this once improbable statistic became fully apparent.

Indeed, Ireland had scored nine tries en route to an almost facile 58-15 win; their first of a deflating Championship and since overcoming France at the World Cup last October.

But, sure as day, there stood Robbie Henshaw, Kieran Marmion, Nathan White, Ultan Dillane and Finlay Bealham as the embodiment of the incredible strides the western province has made under Pat Lam.

They are, after all, sitting pretty atop of the Pro 12 and according to Kieran Marmion, who replaced Conor Murray, Connacht will only continue to supply the national set up.

“Obviously it’s great where Connacht are and I think it’s a reflection of the five lads out there today. There’s more lads ready to step up soon and I think that will be the case.

“It’s great for Connacht; I don’t think there has ever been five lads in there before. We’re all really happy and hopefully we can push on from here.”

Gone now are the days when only Eric Elwood, Johnny O’Connor and latterly Robbie Henshaw were conspicuous as Connacht’s lone representatives in Ireland squads.

Marmion was in the match day squad due to Eoin Reddan’s calf injury and came on to win his fifth cap, while Bealham made his Test debut, also off the bench, after only getting the call on Thursday evening to slot in for the hamstrung Cian Healy.

The Australian import admitted to being taken aback by it all.

“If you told me of five us would be playing a Six Nations game against Italy, I don’t know what I would have told you.

“We didn’t say too much at the end, we just looked at each other and had a big smile. We were all thinking the same thing: just really humbled, really happy we’re all there and hopefully some other lads can come in the future.”

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