Tuesday 20 March 2018

Academy focus is key out west

Former Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Former Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Ronan Loughney

The abundance of talent that has come through the ranks at Leinster and the team's consistent success this season is clearly no coincidence.

Leinster's demographic advantage over the other three provinces has made their academy graduates more frequent and successful.

However, it is clear that the focus on developing talent through the academy systems in the other three provinces is no less important.

In Connacht we saw Pat Lam put a big emphasis on bringing these younger players into the first team.

He reaped the rewards from the development of the young guys in the latter stages of the 2015-16 season, and this appears to have continued under Kieran Keane.

Cillian Gallagher, Conan O'Donnell and Paul Boyle were on the pitch at the end against Munster. They starred for Ireland at U-20 level and have comfortably graduated to senior rugby. Gallagher has really stood out as someone who has transitioned with ease. 

Connacht need to utilise the system to its full potential to create new depth and competition.

To date Connacht have had success with academy graduates. Let's hope that development continues.

Irish Independent

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