Friday 15 December 2017

Blade claims February players' award

Caolin Blade Photo: Sportsfile
Caolin Blade Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Scrum-half Caolin Blade won the public vote to be crowned Connacht's February Player of the Month, beating off stiff competition from other nominees Tiernan O'Halloran and Sean O'Brien in an all-Galway showdown.

The February award win is the first time the 22-year-old from Monivea has been presented with the prize in association with Hartmanns Jewellers, and after an impressive few games in the No 9 shirt the former Athenry Vocational School student was a worthy winner.

Blade, a graduate of the Connacht Academy, is in his second season as a pro and has already amassed 40 appearances in the green shirt.

He was a regular name on the teamsheet in February - with Kieran Marmion on Ireland duty - and repaid coach Pat Lam's faith in his talents with some stellar showing. He featured in all three fixtures last month, and also managed to score a try in both games he started - against Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground and Benetton Treviso in Italy.

The 2016-17 has been a real coming of age campaign for Blade. After just three league starts last season, Blade has featured 15 times for his home province this time round in the Pro12, and also featured in five of Connacht's six Champions Cup games.

Adding real competition to the scrum-half position, Blade is signed up to his native Connacht until at least the summer of 2018.

And with John Cooney set to depart the province to join Ulster at the end of the season, next year could be an even busier one for the sniping half-back.

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