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Carolan Selects Connacht Eagles Team

Carolan Selects Connacht Eagles Team

Head coach Nigel Carolan has announced the Connacht Eagles team to face Cross Keys in the British & Irish Cup at Pandy Park on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

Speaking about the round 3 match, Nigel Carolan said: “Having got to the final last season, Cross Keys are an effective team and are used to a physical brand of rugby.

“On the back of their 43-0 win over Swansea in the Welsh Principality Cup last week, their confidence will be high.

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“However, after our strong performance against Newcastle Falcons in the previous round of the competition, I believe that if we can replicate those high standards we can put ourselves in a good position to come away with a win.”

He added: “We’re travelling with an energetic team who are keen to play an open brand of rugby and demonstrate their capabilities to the first team coaches, and put their hand up for selection for next week’s Heineken Cup trip to Biarritz.”

The westerners will be captained once again by flanker Eoghan Grace, whose most recent outing as skipper saw the Eagles lose 31-9 at home to Leinster ‘A’ last month.

There are four changes to the back-line that started that game with full-back James Loxton, centre Tadhg Leader, winger Matt Healy and scrum half David Moore all earning call-ups.

With props Brett Wilkinson and JP Cooney on duty against Biarritz tonight, Rob Sweeney and Peter Reilly are the two new inclusions in the Eagles’ front row.

David Gannon, who has made four Heineken Cup appearances, joins Connacht Academy member Jonathan Gardiner in the second row, while the Grace-led back row is unchanged.

The list of replacements includes a number of talented young players with Kurt Haupt and Steve Toal-Lennon, who played for St. Mary’s College last weekend along with Sweeney, both hoping to make an impact off the bench.

CONNACHT EAGLES (v Cross Keys): James Loxton; Mark McCrea, Tadhg Leader, Brian Murphy, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, David Moore; Rob Sweeney, Kevin O’Byrne, Peter Reilly, Jonathan Gardiner, David Gannon, David Heffernan, Eoghan Grace (capt), Aaron Conneely.

Replacements: Kurt Haupt, Paul Griffin, Conor Kindregan, Thomas Anderson, Marcus Walsh, Finn Gormley, Steve Toal-Lennon.