Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Time kinda passed me by at Leinster' - The Connacht star with a point to prove at the RDS on Saturday

Tom Farrell didn't make the breakthrough at Leinster, but has been brilliant for Connacht.
Tom Farrell didn't make the breakthrough at Leinster, but has been brilliant for Connacht.

Des Berry

Connacht’s record for signing three-quarters from Leinster is far from a broken one.

When news came through of Tom Daly’s loan move down the M6 highway to the Western province this week, his decision could have been swayed by former Academy players Matt Healy, Cian Kelleher and Tom Farrell thriving out west with regular first-team action.

It was also interesting to note how Farrell, top of the offload chart on 43 in the PRO14 League last season, holds the lead for offloads this season on 16 from eight appearances from the opening ten rounds, his consistent form leading to a November invitation to train with Ireland.

Farrell, who had a season at the Bedford Blues before Connacht came calling, never played for his home province, despite four Ireland U20 caps in 2013. 

"Time kinda passed me by at Leinster," he said.

"I always knew I was capable of mixing it with the big boys at the time. I always backed my ability, but I just never really felt like I was picked at the right time.

"It probably worked out for the better, because I am getting regular game time."

Farrell is just one of no less than 16 players who moved out of the Leinster system and into Connacht’s, mostly because they were deemed surplus to requirements, even though Blackrock’s Denis Buckley and Dave Heffernan returned to their roots immediately.

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You can bet your bottom dollar the majority of them harbour the same feeling as Farrell, that they never got a real chance to show what they could do at Leinster. 

That is why they hold onto a chip the size of a boulder when they see the blue shirt.

It is the key reason why Connacht have saved their best for Leinster when it comes to their inter-provincial record in recent years, especially in Galway, where they embarrassed Leinster last April. 

Of course, the road along the M6 goes both ways, Leinster’s attraction as a European giant luring Connacht’s finest in Robbie Henshaw in a 2016 move that is still a sore point for those out west.

Ireland hooker Seán Cronin was also convinced to come east as far back as 2011.

The reciprocal animosity arises out of Leinster’s scavenging of Connacht’s best in a strategy based more on quality than quantity. 

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