Thursday 19 April 2018

Looking forward to our Westport break after huge win

'To get 24 points from 25 in that block of five Pro12 games before the break was extremely satisfying'. Photo: PA
'To get 24 points from 25 in that block of five Pro12 games before the break was extremely satisfying'. Photo: PA

Pat Lam

To get 24 points from 25 in that block of five Pro12 games before the break was extremely satisfying.

Internally we had targeted 25 which may have seemed ambitious to some but we backed ourselves to go do it. We lost one point against Ospreys but we are pleased with where we are at this stage of the season, but it won't count for anything until May.

The Edinburgh game last week was a great way to sign off that block of games. I said after the game that I don't think many teams go to Murrayfield and get five points so I was very proud of the boys and the way they conducted themselves. Some of our team plays came off which was great and then we really had to put in some courageous defence towards the end as they counter-attacked really well.

The travelling Connacht supporters in Edinburgh were incredible. Throughout the game, and especially near the end when the pressure was really on, we could all hear the Fields of Athenry ring around Murrayfield and the chants of 'Connacht, Connacht' got the boys home. It was somewhat surreal but very much appreciated and I'm sure everyone who travelled had a great few days.

Leinster is our main focus now. They have a game in hand so could move above us before we meet but either way it's going to be first versus second at a packed Sportsground live on Sky Sports so we are really looking forward to it. We've only lost once at home this season and we are determined to protect our home record.

With the big demand for tickets, we're bringing in extra terracing behind the posts and that's just going to add to the fortress atmosphere. One thing I can guarantee is that we're going to really take it to them so I'd be encouraging everyone not to leave it too late to get your tickets.

Momentum is certainly building right around the province and we're so grateful for all the messages of support.

One message in particular was fantastic. I received an invitation from a couple of our season-ticket holders Maria Ruddy and Darren Madden for the team to stay at their Clew Bay Hotel in Westport as their guests and help us prepare for the tough run in of games coming up.

Their generosity has been incredible and they have organised everything for us from training pitches, gym access, and activities around the town.

Hopefully we'll get some good weather and we can fit in some outdoor team activities like kayaking, archery and fishing.

So after a few days off this week, we'll come in again on Monday and we will head to Westport for a two-day camp. It's great to get up to Westport again. We were there for an open session a few seasons ago and it's really a magnificent place to train with Croagh Patrick in the background.

All our sessions will be open for the public to watch and we're all looking forward to being able to mix and mingle with our Mayo Connacht Clan. This camp will be the perfect start to our preparation with a good mix of hard work, variety and crucial team bonding.

Five Connacht boys; Finlay, Ultan, Robbie, Kieran and Nathan were named in the Irish training squad again for the final two games which is testament to the contribution they make.

Hopefully we will see all of them involved in the games which would be another fantastic mark in a record-breaking season for Connacht Rugby.

Irish Independent

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