Belfast Telegraph

Ending Belfast jinx has given O'Halloran belief


Fired up: Tiernan O’Halloran can’t wait to get going
Fired up: Tiernan O’Halloran can’t wait to get going

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

For the men who lived and breathed Connacht's run to the 2016 Guinness PRO12 title, the last two years have served as a form of purgatory.

Rugby round up Newsletter

Game previews, plus expert insights and exclusive commentary from the Belfast Telegraph sports team.

The road back to the knockout stages has been a difficult one, but with Andy Friend leading the charge, the westerners are back at the business end of the season for the first time since.

Ulster away was once the most daunting fixture on the Connacht calendar, but they ended their 58-year wait for a Kingspan Stadium win in October and return with the hoodoo laid to rest.

Tiernan O'Halloran is relishing the return to the play-offs.

"Absolutely, there's a lot of lads still involved and we were only talking about it the other day," he said. "It's nice to play knockout rugby again. It's been a while.

"We had a (Challenge Cup) quarter-final a couple of weeks ago, but there's probably a different feel to it this week as it's an interpro game as well.

"It always brings an extra edge to it, so I think lads are really looking forward to it and a lot of guys can draw on that experience of knockout rugby.

"It's not a first for a lot of people. But, at the same time, it is a new squad now and we've got different beliefs and a different way of playing.

"We've got that experience of winning games. Thankfully we got that experience of winning up there for the first time this season as well, so I think we'll take confidence from that as well. I think we're in a pretty good place at this part of the season, where we wanted to be."

Friend names his team at noon today, with Quinn Roux and Kyle Godwin the key absentees.

Meanwhile, Angus Lloyd has a lot going on at the minute. Already pursuing a medical degree, the scrum-half is hoping to sign off on an excellent season with Clontarf with the All-Ireland League title on Sunday.

Then, he'll get ready to rejoin the ranks of the professionals as he moves to Connacht on a full-time basis having spent part of this season with the province.

The Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) will help facilitate the move and he'll combine his role with his studies in Galway.

"I thought I was good enough to do it. Was I going to get another look? I didn't know," he said of getting back into the pro game after stints with Munster and Ulster.

"I was content with sticking with medicine, but if the opportunity arose and everyone was flexible, I'd take it, which it has.

"I got a three-month contract off Connacht, went down and gave it a stab. Luckily enough, I got something off the back of it.

"It will be tough, but I think it's doable."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph