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'This competition is a clean slate for us': Connacht desperate for spark to ignite their season

The western province are on the road in the Challenge Cup this weekend.

Connacht's Eoin McKeon at training on Tuesday.
Connacht's Eoin McKeon at training on Tuesday.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CONNACHT BACK ROW Eoin McKeon says after recovering from a couple of early season injuries he feels invigorated in the new Sportsground environment.

Much has changed in Galway since last term with Kieran Keane, Nigel Carolan and Pete Wilkins all coming into the coaching setup, while flanker Jarrad Butler is one of a number of new faces in the playing staff.

Connacht travel to Geneva this weekend for the opening round of the Challenge Cup where they clash with French Top 14 strugglers Oyonnax.

And McKeon (26) believes Connacht are ready to inject some badly needed momentum into their campaign and secure just their second win of the season.

“Change is always good, the new players that came in added a bit of competition there as well. It brought a bit of spark in the back row for me anyway,” said McKeon.

“I got a little injury during the summer and had to patient to get back in. I picked up a quad tear and then a groin tear in the opposite leg. It was unusual enough I hadn’t had a soft tissue injury in about two years, and then I picked up two.

“But I am happy to be back in now and hopefully I can keep a good run of form going over these two European games and then into Munster.”

McKeon has scored 12 tries in 109 appearances for his home province but the Galway native has never been to Switzerland and is looking forward to the new experience this weekend.

“I have heard had that it’s similar to Brussels in that it’s mad Monday to Friday and then everybody’s off for the weekend. Hopefully there will be a big crowd at our game,” said McKeon.

Kieran Keane Kieran Keane and McKeon speak to the media. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“I never like to know be presumptuous about French teams because you never really know what they are going to do. We have gone over there and they have done wholesale changes, and other times they have put their strongest side out.

“But Oyonnax do have some big boys and they do have a bit of French flair. We are going to try and put a bit of pressure on their set-piece, and then refocus back on us. If we can do our job well we can come away with a win then.

“This competition is a clean slate for us. Everyone is starting at zero points. We will be looking to get as much as we can out of these two games and then we will refocus back on the league and hopefully do a job on Munster.”

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