The Carlton Hotel was th venue for the Bank of Ireland Connacht squad launch earlier this week.
The event was an opportunity for Bank of Ireland to introduce their renewed sponsorship of Connacht Rugby, a sponsorship that has spanned 14 years – making it the longest running professional sponsorship in Irish sport.
Donal Flynn, regional manager of Bank of Ireland west, spoke of his pride in the continued sponsorship, and more importantly for Connacht, he outlined that new bank Chief Richie Boucher is a extremely keen on maintaining the partnership into the future.
Connacht’s successful 2009/10 season, and the hype that surrounded the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Toulon, were instrumental in determining the bank’s view.
Mayor of Galway Michael Crowe took the opportunity to wish Eric Elwood well in his new role as Connacht head coach. He also urged the people of Galway to get out and support Connacht, a view that was echoed by Connacht Branch President Jim Foy.
This year marks the 125th season for Connacht and there is a lot of optimism that it will be a historic season out west.
Connacht’s season gets underway this Saturday with the visit of the Newport Gwent Dragons to the Sportsground. Kick-off is 5.30pm and tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster, or in the Connacht Rugby office at the ground.
Looking forward to his first season at the helm, Elwood said: “There are no crazy targets. I would like to have a Connacht team that is recognised as competitive, and is consistent in performances both home and away.
“If we get those two performance levels up, are more competitive and consistent, and we are scoring more tries and not leaking as much, then we will be a hard team to beat home or away.
“I want people to look at the Connacht team and say, ‘yeah’ – they not only respect us at home, but I’d like them to respect us away from home also.”
Elwood, who was assistant coach to Michael Bradley before his departure, wants the younger players in the Connacht squad and the new signings to step up to the mark and keep the westerners going in the right direction.
“Everyone know knows of Fionn Carr, Ian Keatley and Sean Cronin,” he added.
“Now I am looking at the next batch – like Eoin Griffin, Tiernan O’Halloran and Eoin McKeon. These are young Connacht homegrown players, and we have to show faith in them and give them game-time and exposure in the Magners League and the Amlin Challenge Cup.
“We also have Darragh Fanning and Shane Monaghan who are still only 21 and 22, so it’s a huge shop window for them.
“It’s a tough league to cut your teeth, but I firmly believe these lads are good enough and they will get their chances.”