Belfast Telegraph

Connacht confident of making big Euro breakthrough

By Cian Tracey

It felt like a major turning point in Connacht back then, and four years on, that famous win in Toulouse still stands alone as the moment that the Westerners really believed they were on the road to something greater.

Last season's Guinness PRO12 success ended the province's long wait for a first trophy and on Sunday Connacht have an opportunity to write the latest chapter of their rapidly growing history as they return to the scene of their most memorable night in Europe.

Reaching the knockout stages of the Champions Cup for the first time would represent another major step in the growth of Connacht and for John Muldoon, who has been through the good and bad times with his home province, it would be all the more special.

Muldoon had been contemplating retirement but he could hardly wipe the smile from his face yesterday when he announced that he would be staying on for one final season.

Prior to the meeting with Toulouse in 2013, Muldoon had torn his calf at home to Saracens and despite having done little training, nobody was going to deny him the chance to take the field and attempt to end the French powerhouse's five-year unbeaten record at Stade Ernest Wallon.

"We did," Muldoon says assuredly, when asked if Connacht really believed that they could topple Toulouse back then.

"We went over with a game-plan. We had a very clear idea going over of what we wanted to do and we executed it perfectly."

October's stunning home win over Toulouse has only heightened the belief in the squad that they can pull off another memorable win in France.

"We're under no illusion how hard it is going to be, but we're going over full of confidence in what is a deciding match in the pool," he said.

Connacht top Pool Two on 18 points, Wasps have 17 and Toulouse 14.

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