Saturday 19 October 2019

Lam looks to light up Thomond

Connacht head coach Pat Lam
Connacht head coach Pat Lam

John Fallon

One by one the barriers have been knocked down in recent years and tomorrow Connacht get the opportunity to create another bit of history when they bid for their first victory of the professional era at Thomond Park.

Connacht have only ever won once at the Limerick venue, an 11-9 triumph in November 1986, on a day when Robbie Henshaw's uncle was tighthead prop.

Davy Henshaw completed a front-row which included Irish internationals Ciaran Fitzgerald and Tom Clancy.

But the hero was centre Liam Mulcahy, one of eight players in the side who played club rugby in Dublin, who got over for the winning try in the dying seconds.

Prior to that, Connacht's best result at Thomond Park was a 6-6 draw in 1974 and aside from a couple of draws in Musgrave Park, Connacht's only other win away to Munster was a 10-3 success at the Cork venue in 1956.

That season Connacht also won 6-3 in Ravenhill but their hopes of an inter-pro grand slam were dashed in between when they fell 19-3 to Leinster at the Sportsground.

The record against Munster, either home or away, has not improved much in the professional era. The 24-16 win over the Reds on New Year's Day last January was only the second triumph in 26 league meetings, the first having come in 2008 when current Munster out-half Ian Keatley kicked four penalties in a 12-6 triumph at the Sportsground.

Connacht's best result away to Munster in the professional era was in 2004 when the sides drew 27-27 in Cork.

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Coach Pat Lam, who earlier this season guided Connacht to their first win in a decade of visits to the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, appreciates that his men are creating new frontiers but understandably does not want them getting distracted by events.

"We now it is a big game because of the situation. It's one v two in the league, it's Thomond Park, we haven't won there. But I think everything we've done in my time here is talk through a process. We've talked about how to win games.

"The coaches have worked on a pretty clear game-plan on how we can beat them. It's a mental challenge and that's what we've been building over the last few weeks. We certainly aren't underestimating the challenge we face."

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