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Connacht Hand First Starts To Reilly And Kenny

Connacht Hand First Starts To Reilly And Kenny

Former Ireland Under-20 international Colm Reilly made his Connacht debut last month against Edinburgh ©INPHO/Craig Watson

Colm Reilly and Conor Kenny will make their first senior starts for Connacht against the Scarlets at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

Ballinasloe native Reilly (21) made his debut off the bench in Connacht’s last outing – a bonus point win in Edinburgh – and he has now been handed the number 9 jersey for the first time.

He will partner Jack Carty at half-back, with Caolin Blade (hamstring) unavailable for the next number of weeks. Kieran Marmion returns from Ireland camp to take a bench spot.

Another product of Connacht’s grassroots system, tighthead prop Kenny has made seven appearances as a replacement since earning his debut at the start of last season.

The 24-year-old combines in the front row with fellow Offaly man Shane Delahunt and Paddy McAllister, with the latter also set for his first start of the campaign.

Ultan Dillane also returns from international duty to line out in the second row with Gavin Thornbury, while there is a Sportsground bow for strong-carrying Kiwi number 8 Abraham Papali’i.

Paul Boyle and captain Jarrad Butler complete the pack, Sam Arnold reverts to midfield where he partners Tom Daly, and Matt Healy, Connacht’s record try scorer, is back to make up a lightning-quick back-three with John Porch and Alex Wootton.

Speaking ahead of the Guinness PRO14 round 6 clash, head coach Andy Friend said: “While having two postponed games was disappointing, we’ve made sure to take a positive approach to the situation.

“We’ve had a great few weeks training and it’s given some players the opportunity to reach full fitness again. It’s also our first home game in six weeks so we’re looking forward to that.

“In Conor and Colm we have two more Academy graduates making their first starts which is a real positive for us as a province.

“We’ve also got plenty of experience available to us again since the Edinburgh game, like Jack Carty, Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion and Matt Healy. So we’re in a healthy spot overall and we can’t wait to get back playing.”

CONNACHT (v Scarlets): John Porch; Alex Wootton, Sam Arnold, Tom Daly, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Colm Reilly; Paddy McAllister, Shane Delahunt, Conor Kenny, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Paul Boyle, Jarrad Butler (capt), Abraham Papali’i.

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Denis Buckley, Jack Aungier, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Kieran Marmion, Tom Farrell, Peter Sullivan.