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Duffy Returns To Connacht Team

Duffy Returns To Connacht Team

Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has finalised his team and replacements for Saturday’s Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 1 encounter with I Cavalieri Estra at the Sportsground (kick-off 6pm).

The province’s matchday squad remains largely unchanged from the one that was on duty for last weekend’s excellent 35-21 win in Bayonne last weekend.

Head coach Eric Elwood said: “We got that elusive victory we have been looking for in recent weeks now, and hopefully we can push on now and back it up on Saturday.

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“We owe Prato a result after the defeat down there. We then have a week off for a break and we’re back in training then for the next game which comes in February agains the Scarlets.

“Our primary focus now is to win on Saturday and bring this confidence boost into next month.”

Selection wise, Bernie Upton makes way for Michael Swift in the second row, and Johnny O’Connor is replaced by Shane Conneely who will be making his first competitive start for Connacht.

The 20-year-old flanker from Galway, who is in the second year with the Connacht Academy, came on for the injured O’Connor last Saturday and made an immediate impact.

Full-back Gavin Duffy has recovered from the knee injury that has ruled him out for the last month, allowing Fionn Carr to return to the wing.

Keith Matthews returns to captain the side from inside centre and Eoin Griffin has been rested, making way for Niva Ta’auso at outside centre.

Ray Ofisa is back available after time out with a facial injury. The hard-hitting Samoan flanker, who has played 80 times for Connacht, will hope to have an impact off the replacements bench.

Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin and Jamie Hagan make up the front row, the trio were called up to the Ireland senior and Wolfhounds squads announced this week.

Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy’s inclusion in Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations squad comes on the back of an impressive campaign so far for Connacht.

The 29-year-old lineout specialist can play in the second row and back row and it is this versatility, along with his excellent ball-carrying abilities, that have made him a regular in the Connacht squad, earning his 100th provincial cap last weekend.

CONNACHT (v I Cavalieri Estra): Gavin Duffy; Fionn Carr, Niva Ta’auso, Keith Matthews (capt), Brian Tuohy; Ian Keatley, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan, Mike McCarthy, Michael Swift, Andrew Browne, Shane Conneely, Mike McComish.

Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, Bernie Upton, Ray Ofisa, Cillian Willis, Miah Nikora, Shane Monahan.