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Connacht Give European Debuts To Deegan And Coulson

Connacht Give European Debuts To Deegan And Coulson

Head coach Kieran Keane has announced the Connacht team to face French Top 14 side Oyonnax at Stade de Genève in Switzerland on Saturday (kick-off 8pm local time/7pm Irish time).

Out-half Andrew Deegan and loosehead prop Denis Coulson both start and make their European debuts for the province in this weekend’s Challenge Cup opener in Geneva.

Darragh Leader is named at full-back with Cian Kelleher and Matt Healy lining up on the wings. Eoin Griffin and Tom Farrell form a new centre pairing with Bundee Aki rested having played the full 80 minutes in all six of Connacht’s games so far this season.

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The 22-year-old Deegan forms a half-back pairing with Caolin Blade, who makes his third start of the season. In the front row, Coulson (23) is joined by hooker Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham at tighthead. Locks Ultan Dillane and James Cannon are in the engine room with Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon and captain John Muldoon in the back row.

Speaking ahead of his debut as a coach in the Challenge Cup, Kieran Keane said: “Oyonnax are in a similar situation to us and both teams are looking to build some momentum. This competition is new for me and quite a few of the boys, the fact that we’re playing in Geneva is a really interesting situation for us so there are a lot of new aspects to it.”

CONNACHT (v Oyonnax): Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Andrew Deegan, Caolin Blade; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Connolly, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Rory Scholes.