Tuesday 16 January 2018

Lam's high praise for Carty after Connacht's 'best season'

Pat Lam: 'This is the best season Connacht has ever hard – full stop'
Pat Lam: 'This is the best season Connacht has ever hard – full stop'
David Kelly

David Kelly

The middle-aged Mayo émigré was sipping his Black Country Ale and whipping up an even blacker tale of intrigue in Mike Teague's.

The famous old Gloucester hostelry, whose eponymous owner was an England international and club legend, houses sundry tales of regret and relief in equal measure.

The Irish are drinking bitter and thinking bitter.

Their fury is centred on referee Romain Poite in the wake of Gloucester's controverial last-gasp try in the dying embers of normal time; but, as usual in sport, a more prosaic explanation settles the mind as dusk turns to dark.

Connacht have only themselves to blame that they did not see the job through; neither age-old perceived grievances nor fawning self-pity will help them now.

As much as it was encouraging to see a host of young stars on the field late on - from the outstanding Jack Carty to emerging Academy stars James Connolly and Aaron Conneely - it was precisely this collective greenness which ultimately cost them.

It is the harshest of lessons for a team that demands to be taken seriously, rather than receive the perennial condescension to which they have become accustomed.

Which is probably why Pat Lam refused to descend to referee-baiting as he had done to his cost earlier this term.

"Fair play to Jack," he instead enthused, selecting just one of his side's emerging stars. "We can't afford to buy international tens, we need to build them. It's been a rollercoaster for him but a development too. He was superb.

"He's an example of what we need to build on for next season, a core group of good young players coming through. It's just unfortunate we're not in the Champions Cup.

"Our ambitions haven't changed. We want to be where the top echelon of European clubs are. We want to get more players into the Irish set-up.

"And we want to have 30pc of our players indigenous to Connacht. Next year we will go after it again. We want to be in the Champions Cup.

"Remember, this is the best season Connacht has ever hard - full stop. We had our best points total, most wins ever and we made it to the play-offs.

"I'm wildly proud of what we've done with the same resources. We're going to get better. We will build on this next year."

Irish Independent

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