With five players departing the Sportsground, Connacht full-back Gavin Duffy admitted ‘it’s sad to see lads go that you have built up a bond with over the years.’
Connacht finished up their season with a 24-20 Magners League win over the Ospreys at the Sportsground, with John Fogarty, Conor McPhillips and Darren Yapp each getting some game-time in their last outings in green.
Fogarty is Leinster-bound, while Yapp and the long-serving Matt Mostyn are retiring and scrum halves McPhillips and Tom Tierney are both on the lookout for new clubs.
A calf injury injured saw Mostyn miss out on a final run-out with the province but Duffy has plenty of memories, both on and off the pitch, of the 33-year-old former Ireland international.
Writing in his column in the Mayo News, Duffy said: “Matt ‘Truck’ Mostyn, for example, is a player I first met while playing for the Irish Sevens side in Dubai back in late 2000. Just out of secondary school, I was in dreamland togging out beside Matt and other Internationals like James Topping, David Wallace and Killian Keane.
“To this day, ‘Truck’ and I would still reminisce about ‘one of the great tours’ when we came back from 17-5 down at half-time to beat the mighty Moroccans in the Bowl final.
“Unable to get a flight home for two days after the tournament, we duly availed of the opportunity to revel in our triumph! There weren’t too many Irish teams winning silverware in those days!
“On wet and windy days up at the Sportsground we often joke how it’s a far cry from the day we were holding the Fijians scoreless under the blistering sun in the desert of Dubai. We leave out the bit that we ultimately lost 55-0 and the game was only seven minutes a half but never let the truth get in the way of a good story and all that!”
The Connacht squad held their end-of-season awards on Saturday with flanker John Muldoon scooping the players’ Player of the Year award, the coaches’ Player of the Year gong went to prop Brett Wilkinson and Ireland-capped flanker Johnny O’Connor received the supporters’ Player of the Year award.
Ballina man Duffy is hopeful that Connacht can put what has been a frustrating season behind them, and with the squad returning from holidays on June 16 thoughts are already turning to the 2008/09 campaign.
“Hopefully next season with the new additions to the back-line in the form of the promising duo Fionn Carr and Ian Keatley from Leinster, the powerful centre Niva Ta’auso from the Otago Highlanders, plus the experienced pair of Frank Murphy and Kieran Campbell, who will be challenging the buzzing Conor O’Loughlin at scrum half, we will capitalise on the good work by numbers one to eight.”
Duffy’s season is not over just yet as he has been named in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.
“I was delighted to be named in the touring party and look forward to the challenge ahead. With Leinster winning the league and hopefully Munster recapturing their European crown, the squad should be in good spirits heading south,” he added.