Head coach Mossy Lawler has named the Connacht Eagles team for Sunday’s British & Irish Cup round 2 match against high-flying Ealing Trailfinders at the Sportsground (kick-off 2pm).
Andrew Deegan, Rory Scholes and captain JP Cooney are among the players drafted into the side. Once again, the strong selection includes a mix of senior and Connacht Academy players as the Ireland-capped Niyi Adeolokun and Fiji international Naulia Dawai both maintain their places.
Out-half Deegan partners Conor McKeon at half-back with Scholes starting on the left wing as Stacey Ili maintains his place at outside centre. The NUIG-sponsored Connacht Academy is well represented with Matthew Byrne at full back, Kieran Joyce at inside centre, Peter Claffey in the second row, and both Paul Boyle and Harley Fox in the back row.
An all-senior front row sees Denis Coulson and Cooney flank hooker Pat O’Toole with lock Gavin Thornbury partnering Claffey in the engine room.
Scrum half James Mitchell is set to make his return from injury off the bench with three Academy players among the replacements – out-half Luke Carty, back-three specialist Adam Leavy and prop Conor Kenny.
Ireland Under-18 internationals Cian Huxford and Callum Torpey (Exile) complete the bench along with Niall Murray, last season’s Connacht Under-18 Player of the Year.
It is set to be a very tough task against an Ealing Trailfinders side that are flying high in the Championship with five wins from six. They made a superb start to their B&I Cup campaign with a 67-12 bonus point win over Richmond last week, and former Connacht out-half Shane O’Leary is among their ranks.
Admission to Sunday’s game for Connacht Rugby Season Ticket holders and under-12s is free of charge. General admission is €;5.
CONNACHT EAGLES (v Ealing Trailfinders): Matthew Byrne; Niyi Adeolokun, Stacey Ili, Kieran Joyce, Rory Scholes; Andrew Deegan, Conor McKeon; Denis Coulson, Pat O’Toole, JP Cooney (capt), Peter Claffey, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Naulia Dawai, Harley Fox.
Replacements: Callum Torpey, Conor Kenny, Niall Murray, Cian Huxford, James Mitchell, Luke Carty, Adam Leavy.