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Club Players Step Up For Connacht Eagles

Club Players Step Up For Connacht Eagles

Connacht Eagles, who will be competing in this season’s British & Irish Cup, continue their preparations for the tournament by taking on Munster ‘A’ at Garryowen FC on Thursday (kick-off 5pm).

In announcing his team for Thursday’s fixture, Connacht Eagles head coach Nigel Carolan said: “Due to a lot of our development players being on duty with the seniors in Glasgow this weekend, we have tapped into the talent pool of the club game.

“This is a great opportunity for club representatives to compete at this level and for the coaches to have a look at various possibilities in advance of the British & Irish Cup which kicks off in mid-October.”

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Scrum half Marcus Walsh played with the Connacht Under-20s last season and has just been contracted to the Connacht Academy earlier in the week.

Finn Gormley of Corinthians has played with all Connacht age grade teams up through the years and lines out with the Eagles tomorrow at inside centre.

Elsewhere in the pack, former Ireland Under-20 international Finlay Bealham starts again at loosehead prop.

Bealham, who is in his firrst year with the Connacht Academy, made his senior debut against Exeter Chiefs during the summer and was also in the matchday squad for Connacht’s opening league game against the Cardiff Blues.

Former Munster Academy Player of the Year Eoghan Grace joined Connacht last season from Exeter. The talented flanker was a member of the Ireland Sevens team that competed at the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai and he was also a member of Eric Elwood’s famous Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winning side of 2007.

Grace is joined in the back row by senior player Thomas Anderson, who captains the Eagles tomorrow, and Academy player Dave Heffernan. Other senior players to join the Eagles tomorrow include prop JP Cooney and winger Matt Healy.

Another well-known name in the starting line-up is Conor Finn, who appears on the right wing. He was part of the Ireland Under-20 team that finished fifth in the summer’s IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa.

“I’m very excited about the season ahead. The British & Irish Cup will provide some great opportunities for a lot of the Academy members to play with Connacht Eagles,” added Carolan.

“We have some exceptional talent coming through the ranks and it’s up to us to help nurture and develop those players so they can make the most of the challenges that await them.”

The Eagles’ first game of the British & Irish Cup will take place at Rodney Parade on Saturday, October 13 when Newport provide the opposition.

CONNACHT EAGLES (v Munster ‘A’): Steve Macauley; Conor Finn, Jerome Harimate, Finn Gormley, Matt Healy; Tadhg Leader, Marcus Walsh; Finlay Bealham, Kurt Haupt, JP Cooney, Jonathan Gardiner, Daniel Qualter, Thomas Anderson (capt), Eoghan Grace, Dave Heffernan.

Replacements: Peter Reilly, Jamie Dever, Robert Sweeney, Conor Kindregan, Aaron Conneely, Chris Lilly, Sam Johnson, Callum Boland.