Saturday 21 September 2019

O'Halloran relishing return to knockouts

Tiernan O'Halloran. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Tiernan O'Halloran. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

For the men who lived and breathed Connacht's run to the 2016 PRO14 title, the last two years have served as a form of purgatory.

The road back to the knockout stages has been a difficult one, but with Andy Friend leading the charge, the westerners are back at the business end of the season for the first time since.

Ulster away was once the most daunting fixture on the Connacht calendar, but they ended their 57-year wait for a Ravenhill victory in October and return with the hoodoo laid to rest.

Tiernan O'Halloran is relishing the return to the play-offs.

"Absolutely, there's a lot of lads actually still involved and we were only talking about it the other day," he said.

"You know, it's nice to play knockout Rugby again. It's been a while.

"Obviously we had a (Challenge Cup) quarter-final a couple of weeks ago, but there's probably a different feel to it this week as it's an interpro game as well.

"It always brings an extra edge to it. So, I think lads are really looking forward to it and a lot of guys can draw on that experience of knockout rugby.

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"I suppose it's not a first for a lot of people. But, at the same time, it is a new squad now and we've got different beliefs and a different way of playing.

"We've got that experience of winning games. Thankfully, we got that experience of winning up in Ravenhill for the first time this season as well.

"So, I think we'll take confidence from that as well. And, overall, I think we're in a pretty good place at this part of the season, where we wanted to be."

Friend names his team at noon today, with Quinn Roux and Kyle Godwin the key absentees for the trip to Belfast.

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