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Connacht vow to take lead from Browne's Atlantic charity effort

By Declan Rooney

Connacht's quest for European glory is being inspired by a former team-mate who is rowing across the Atlantic for charity.

Damian Browne, a Galway city native who played over 50 games for the province, has passed the midpoint of his solo row.

Connacht are through to the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup for a 10th time and on Saturday will hope to seal home advantage for that tie when they take on Oyonnax at the Sportsground.

Browne is in his 34th day of an estimated 2,700 nautical miles row and by the time two of his former teams, Connacht and Oyonnax, meet, it is estimated he will be close to 1,000 miles from his finishing line.

Damian's brother Andrew remains on Connacht's injured list, but the squad and the Brownes' neighbour, forwards coach Jimmy Duffy, have been getting inspiration from him.

"Damian lived across the road from me at home in Renmore," said Duffy. "The boys have been tracking him on the satellite."

Damian made his debut for Connacht in 2001-02 season and represented his native province on 51 occasions before he made the switch to Northampton.

Four seasons playing for Connacht's other Challenge Cup rivals Brive was followed by a stint with Leinster, before he finished his playing days in Oyonnax.

The Connacht squad have played their part in the fundraising for the event - more than €60,000 (£53,370) has been raised for Damian's charities.

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