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O’Halloran and Adeolokun return as Connacht prepare to get Christmas inter-pros underway

Niyi Adeolokun, Matt Healy and Tiernan O’Halloran all return for the visit of Ulster to Galway.

Connacht's Niyi Adeolokun.
Connacht's Niyi Adeolokun.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Kieran Keane has announced his starting team to face Ulster in the Sportsground on Saturday (7:35pm, TG4).

The clash with Ulster is the first in the series of Christmas inter-pros, with clashes away to Leinster (1 January) and Munster (6 January) to come.

Tiernan O’Halloran is back in the side at full back and is joined by Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy, who scored four tries in Connacht’s win over Brive last weekend.

Speculation about a potential move to Munster was quashed on Thursday morning, as O’Halloran signed a new two year deal with Connacht and the IRFU.

“I am a proud Connacht man and am delighted to be extending my contract with my home province for a further two years,” he said.

Meanwhile Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion form the half back for Saturday’s game, pairing after Marmion was rested in the win against Brive.

In the pack Denis Coulson comes in at loose head in place of the injured Denis Buckley. He is joined in the front row by hooker Shane Delahunt and Finlay Bealham at tight head.

In the back-row flanker Jarrad Butler returns from an injury he picked up in the victory at home to Munster in October.

Connacht have installed additional terracing in the Sportsground to accommodate the ticket demand for the Christmas fixture and Head coach Kieran Keane says he expects the home crowd will be have a bearing on the game.

“The crowd have been massive for us so far this season and the place will be in festive spirit on Saturday,” Keane said.

“That has a huge impact on players. That can create an 8 or 10 point turn around. Just look how the players responded last week and the night we played Munster.

“We want to recreate that atmosphere and that performance again on Saturday”

Connacht team to face Ulster:

15. Tiernan O’Halloran

14. Niyi Adeleokun

13. Bundee Aki

12. Tom Farrell

11. Matt Healy

10. Jack Carty

9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Coulson

2. Shane Delahunt

3. Finlay Bealham

4. Ultan Dillane

5. Quinn Roux

6. Eoghan Masterson

7. Jarrad Butler

8. John Muldoon (Capt)

Replacements:

16. Tom McCartney

17. Peter McCabe

18. Conor Carey

19. James Cannon

20. Naulia Dawai

21. James Mitchell

22. Eoin Griffin

23. Darragh Leader.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

‘If you are focusing on “I have to get back to Ireland,” you’re not going to play your best rugby’

Christmas comes early for Connacht as O’Halloran signs two-year extension

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Aaron Gallagher

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