Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era


Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

Out of the West

West Coast/East Coast – ol’ skool

Connacht is the runt of the litter of Irish rugby. While there’s various dynamics at play between Leinster, Munster and Ulster, the attitude towards Connacht is that they’re everyone’s favourite underdog and that it’s a bitch of an away trip, to mix canine metaphors.

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Positions Of Need


Eric Elwood: with another year of Heineken Cup rugby guaranteed, the Connacht chief recognized the two key positions in which he needed to strengthen his squad … and then went out and did something about it.

Connacht have confirmed a couple of really intelligent signings in former Bristol and Leinster hooker Jason Harris-Wright and Galwegians centre/fullback Brian Murphy. Continue reading

Denis Fogarty Hitches His Wagon To Aurillac

Fogs Jnr is out of Munster and off to Aurillac, the Jeremy Davidson-coached Pro D2 outfit. There's been a lot of movement in the Munster squad this season – and probably more to come – but this is a curious one.

Munster hooker Denis Fogarty is off to Aurillac at the end of the season. Aurillac currently play in the Pro D2 [France’s professional second division] and are coached by former Ulster, Ireland and Lions second row Jeremy Davidson. They’re not doing too well at the moment and are currently stuck in eleventh place of a sixteen team league, having won less than half their matches. Continue reading

The Boys From The County Hell

The Boys From The County Hell

“Be careful what you wish for: you just might get it.”

What a terrible, hack-ish way to start off. Don’t worry, it’s all straight downhill from here.

Connacht went into the game against Harlequins, the last game of their inaugural Heineken Cup campaign, with nothing to play for but pride. That seemed to do it for them, however, as they put in a monumental effort to deny the high-flying leaders of the Aviva Premiership both the win and the chance to go to the quarter-finals.  Continue reading

The Laws Of Probability

Lady Luck! She wears green! She hates Connacht! The irony.

Almost with a sense of perversity, it must be pointed out that the Irish run cannot continue forever. Perhaps Ulster have not yet had the proverbial “rub of the green” in the Heineken Cup this season – and Connacht certainly haven’t – but neither Munster nor Leinster can claim that to be the case. Continue reading

Who dat say dey gonna pick dat Saint?

Ooooooh, James Downey! (With apologies to Whiff of Cordite)

On the strength of the weekend’s games, James Downey is Ireland’s best number 12 at the moment. This Mole has long rejected calls for Downey to be included in squads, never mind teams, but his displays over the last year have not only been impressive, they’ve shown improvement. Continue reading

Harlequins 25 – 17 Connacht

Future England captain speaks out

While they ended up on the wrong side of an eight-point margin, and thus in practice got nothing from the game, Connacht’s performance against high-flying Harlequins was worth all the praise that comes its way. As the old saw goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression: in their debut in the Heineken Cup, the Westies showed that they belong in the competition. Continue reading