Jump to main content


Connacht Stalwart O’Halloran Set For Final Home Game

Connacht Stalwart O’Halloran Set For Final Home Game

Tiernan O'Halloran is pictured in action for Connacht against provincial rivals Ulster earlier this season ©INPHO/James Crombie

Retiring full-back Tiernan O’Halloran will start for Connacht in Saturday’s crunch BKT United Rugby Championship clash with the DHL Stormers at Dexcom Stadium (kick-off 5.05pm). Tickets are available to buy here.

Connacht need to beat the 2021/22 champions in order to stay in contention for the URC play-offs and Investec Champions Cup qualification. They are ninth in the table, four points behind both Benetton and Edinburgh above them.

A top eight finish is the target for Pete Wilkins’ men, although securing seventh spot could be required for entry into next season’s Champions Cup if the Hollwoodbets Sharks win the EPCR Challenge Cup next week.

Clifden native O’Halloran will play his final home game for the province after a 15-year career. The 33-year-old announced his retirement earlier this month.

Jarrad Butler will also play in front of the home support for the final time if called upon, with Connacht’s former captain named among the replacements.

Also on the bench is Argentinian international Santiago Cordero, who is in line to make his belated debut after recovering from his pre-season ACL injury. Mack Hansen misses out but is close to returning from a dislocated shoulder.

Ballina man Dave Heffernan, who makes his 199th appearance, captains the westerners from the front row, flanked by Peter Dooley and Finlay Bealham. Darragh Murray comes into the second row alongside Joe Joyce.

The fit-again Cian Prendergast, and Sean Jansen, are added to a physical-looking back row unit, with Shamus Hurley-Langton moving to openside flanker. Prendergast and Hurley-Langton have both been nominated for the Connacht Players’ and Fans’ Player of the Year awards.

Following last week’s disappointing 47-12 defeat at Munster, there are three changes to the back-line where the injured Matthew Devine and Shane Jennings are replaced by Caolin Blade and John Porch respectively.

O’Halloran and Byron Ralston, who bagged a brace of tries in Limerick, complete the back-three, Jack Carty takes the half-back pairing’s caps total to 400, and the final change sees Dubliner David Hawkshaw combine with Bundee Aki in midfield.

It is sure to be an emotional occasion for Connacht fans, in what will be the last game played in front of the Clan Terrace before its demolition next month. Those in attendance will also get an opportunity to pay tribute to the province’s departing players with a post-match presentation.

Speaking ahead of the round 17 fixture with the fifth-placed Stormers, Wilkins said: “The game will be a momentous occasion between departing players, potential debuts, and everything happening with the Clan Stand, but first and foremost it’s a massive game that we have to win.

“Play-off rugby and Champions Cup qualification is what we’ll always aspire to, and now we must produce a performance that shows we deserve to reach that next stage.

“There will be a lot said about the departing players before and after the game, but it’s important to highlight how great it is to include Santi in the matchday 23 for the first time.

“He has shown unbelievable resilience since his knee injury, and it’s a testament to him and the medical team here that he’s available to us for these last two games at least.

“It’s a 23 that I know is capable of delivering a performance and result fitting of the occasion, and I’m sure the thousands of fans in the Clan Stand and around the stadium will be with them for every step of the way.”

CONNACHT (v DHL Stormers): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, David Hawkshaw, Bundee Aki, Byron Ralston; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Peter Dooley, Dave Heffernan (capt), Finlay Bealham, Joe Joyce, Darragh Murray, Cian Prendergast, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Sean Jansen.

Replacements: Dylan Tierney-Martin, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Oisín Dowling, Jarrad Butler, Colm Reilly, Cathal Forde, Santiago Cordero.