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O'Halloran out to make Sportsground farewell a fond one for Lam and McPhillips

The duo will turn their attention to the English second tier after one last European play-off push.

CONNACHT FULLBACK TIERNAN O’Halloran hopes that he can help give head coach Pat Lam and backs coach Conor McPhillips the perfect send-off against Scarlets this weekend.

The 26-year old has put in some stunning displays for Connacht this season, but despite topping the charts in the amount of carries and metres made in the league, he couldn’t help guide his team into an automatic qualification spot for next season’s Champions Cup.

The Connemara native knows it’s crucial his team start to pick up momentum and it begins against Scarlets this Saturday in what could be the final game at the Sportsground for Lam and former winger McPhillips unless they can force a Champions Cup play-off final to go west.

“There is a massive appreciation for what the lads have done,” said O’Halloran.

Conor McPhillips Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“Conor has been here for a long time, as a player as well. Even last year, when he wasn’t our official backs coach, he would have done a lot of our attack work with the backs.

“There is that sense that you have an appreciation for the work the lads have done but there is excitement as well for new coaches coming in and the work will keep on going.

“That’s the way rugby is, you have coaches coming in and out all of the time. And players coming in and out.

“It’s just about learning from those experiences, learning from each coach and each player you play with and trying to use that to make you a better player as well.

“As a collective, I’m sure we’ll see that from the game, there will be a massive appreciation for the work the lads have done.”

Connacht signed ex-Leinster academy lock Gavin Thornbury earlier this week, one year on from their controversial capture of Cian Kelleher from Leinster.

But O’Halloran knows these players recognise Connacht as a chance to build their career and he says their new second row can be a big hit.

Pat Lam and Conor McPhillips Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It’s great to see a young Irish guys coming in. It’s exciting to work with another new Irish player,” said O’Halloran.

“Connacht give massive opportunities to guys. Whether that means guys have to leave other provinces to come down here.

“Or whether like myself, I got my opportunity at 18. I was lucky. That’s the great thing about Connacht. They are willing to give you a chance to prove yourself on the pitch.

“That’s the main reason we have signed these promising guys in the last few years.”

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