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Delahunt To Make First PRO12 Start For Connacht

Delahunt To Make First PRO12 Start For Connacht

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made a total of five changes to his starting line-up for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 encounter with Benetton Treviso at the Stadio di Monigo (kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time).

In the same week that he signed a Connacht Academy contract, 20-year-old Shane Delahunt has been handed his first PRO12 start at hooker after coming on from the bench in the last two rounds.

Hailing from Birr, County Offaly, Delahunt attended Kilkenny College where he captained the senior team to their first ever Leinster Senior League title in 2011.

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Having come through the Leinster underage system, Delahunt was included in the Ireland Under-20 Six Nations squad last season and earned his first cap against Scotland U-20s in January.

The young hooker starts in an all-new front row this week, alongside the province’s September Player of the Month Denis Buckley and Ireland-capped tighthead prop Rodney Ah You.

In the back row, Galway man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker while the only change to the backs sees Matt Healy start on the left wing. Danie Poolman is included among the replacement backs along with David McSharry and Ian Porter.

Commenting on the team selection and the trip to Italy, Pat Lam said: “We’ve made a few changes to the pack for our game against Treviso. We travel this week without Nathan (White) who just missed out due to a minor neck strain.

“Rodney and Denis return to start and are charged with looking after Shane who earns his first start. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Shane who has come off the bench the last two games for a few minutes.

“Without the injured hookers Jason (Harris-Wright) and Sean (Henry) as well as the wait for Tom (McCartney) from his Auckland commitments, Shane joined the squad in pre-season and we have been very impressed with his attitude and work ethic.

“Treviso are a tough team to play away, especially up front where they will look to disrupt us. We showed last season at the Stadio di Monigo what can happen to us when we don’t play as a team and we haven’t let ourselves forget that in our preparations this week.

“Treviso will be looking for their first win of the season and at home in front of their home crowd, but it’s up to us to ensure the focus is on getting our processes right in order to carry on the winning momentum from the start of the season.”

CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso): Darragh Leader; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Rodney Ah You, Michael Kearney, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: David Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Aly Muldowney, Willie Faloon, Ian Porter, David McSharry, Danie Poolman.