Short-term focus paying off for Connacht's Shane Delahunt

The hooker is one start away from registering his best season total with Connacht.

Connacht hooker Shane Delahunt.
Connacht hooker Shane Delahunt.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

SHANE DELAHUNT ISN’T one to worry too much about the future. In the early days of his rugby career, it didn’t take him long to stop looking way down Connacht’s fixture list and start following the well-worn ‘one game at a time’ mindset.

He’s similarly tuned when it comes to the bigger picture stuff. With contract negotiations, money and security are generally the two big incentives for pro rugby players, yet for most of his time with Connacht Delahunt has been happy to settle for one-year extensions. 

“That’s what I wanted. It just suited me over the years,” he says, admitting short-term deals have helped drive him to improve each year.

He’s one of 27 Connacht players who came into 2021 entering the last few months of his contract. So far he’s heard nothing about a new deal, but it’s not keeping him awake at night.

“A lot of those lads need that (security) because they have nothing to do back to. I have something to go back to at home, so it’s grand. So financially probably (it’s never been an issue), and just keeping your options open. Tom [McCartney] was here, so I probably wasn’t playing as much as I could have, and you didn’t know year-on-year what was going to happen, so it was easier sign a one year than anything else.”

That ‘something to go back to’ Delahunt mentions is the family farm near Birr, a welcome distraction which hasn’t been hit too hard by the various Covid lockdowns.

“We are able to mix it (with playing rugby) because I live at home, so it’s fine. Realistically, things haven’t changed much up there. You’re in the fecking wilderness at the best of times. Things haven’t really changed. We’re busy calving there at the moment, so it’s busy.”

His rugby journey is also continuing on the right path. The hooker, who turned 27 earlier this week, is one start away from registering his best ever season return (eight) with Connacht.

“I’ve been happy with the way I’ve been playing. I don’t really judge it on performance as such, it’s how hard I work and what sort of affect I’ve had on the game. I probably didn’t play as well against Munster, I didn’t have as much of an affect as I wanted, but in other games I’ve been happy enough with how things have went.”

Connacht are hoping to confirm some good news in terms of player contracts over the coming weeks, with Andy Friend’s new two-year contract set to get the wheels in motion on a series of new deals.

“It’s obviously a no-brainer for Connacht to keep him (Friend) on because his man-management is second to none and he’s the right person for the place, which is most important,” Delahunt continues.

“And what he’s done for me, all he has been is been honest with me, and that’s all I can ask for because that’s the kind of person I am. I’m straight-up, what you see is what you get, and I like that in return. That’s the way he’s been for me and it’s probably helped me over the last three years.”

Next up for Delahunt and Connacht is a trip to play Dragons tomorrow, with the province looking to get back to winning ways following back-to-back home defeats in the Pro14.

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“Our consistency has probably been a problem over the last few weeks, a few ups-and-downs, and probably consistency within games as well. We’ve been really good in parts and a few minutes here and there where we’ve knocked off has probably affected us massively in regards to getting a result.

“It’s all about our process (against Dragons). Whether it be in defence or attack, just build our way into the game. I presume the weather isn’t going to be great and the pitch is going to be poor. It’s just about building our way into the game, nothing flash or out of system.

“Just do what we are good at, find the space where we can, and defensively bar up because they have good attacking threats. Jamie Roberts, Sam Davies, they are good attacking threats, so we need to be well on our game from minute one.”

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ciarán Kennedy

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