Tuesday 23 January 2018

Lam: Let's make dreams happen

Pat Lam
Pat Lam

John Fallon

A journey which began 15 years ago and which has continued at 27 venues across Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy will hopefully culminate tomorrow in Edinburgh with Connacht being crowned Pro12 champions and picking up their first ever piece of silverware.

It has been Connacht's best season from a long time back but now they are just 80 minutes away from lifting the first trophy in their 131-year history.

It has become one of the sports stories of the year, right up there with Leicester City's remarkable triumph, and it is a journey which has endured more than a fair share of hardship.

Tomorrow's game at Murrayfield will be Connacht's 285th league match since they kicked off the campaign with a memorable 6-3 win over Cardiff at the Arms Park on August 18, 2001.

There has been many a twist and turn since then but the bare facts show that Connacht won 103 of those games, drew 13 and lost 168. Over a quarter of those wins - 27 - have come this campaign and last season.

A total of 467 tries have been scored and 650 conceded. The 60 scored so far this season is a record. It was assumed that last season's haul of 49 had set a new benchmark, but in 2003-'04 Connacht scored 50 in a campaign which was also over 22 games.

Similarly, last season's 49 for and 48 against try count was not the first time they scored more than conceded. Back in the first season of the competition, when it was split into two pools, Connacht scored 18 tries and conceded ten.

And while this is the first time since the league went on a home and away basis in 2003-'04 that Connacht have finished in the top half, they have finished bottom of the table in just three of the 15 campaigns.

All of those statistics will be swept aside if Pat Lam's men complete their remarkable journey tomorrow and claim the trophy at the home of Scottish rugby.

Lam said it would be a fitting reward for the province's loyal supporters if Connacht go on to become champions.

"They lift us, we lift them, it's just great. It's a wonderful, it's not the Sportsground, it's the people. It's like any place, it's not the west of Ireland, it's the people of the west of Ireland that make the difference and that's what we've always talked about - it's people not places."

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