Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# pay it forward
Now we can pay Leinster back for Heineken Cup appearances - Kieran Marmion
The Connacht scrumhalf is hoping to engineer a winning send-off for coach Eric Elwood.

“IT IS GOING to be emotional for a few players, and for Eric,” Connacht scrumhalf Kieran Marmion admitted to ”Everyone is up for the game and raring to go. Glasgow will be playing to get a home semi-final so we know they are here to spoil the party.”

Having played 168 times for the province and coached, head and assistant, for eight years, Eric Elwood is set to get a rousing farewell at the Sportsground tonight, with semi-final-chasing Glasgow Warriors the visitors. Marmion, who was given his first team debut this season, believes the Galwegian has left his native province in good shape.

He said, “The idea of the coaches this year was to build a nucleus of a squad, of younger players, so we can build around that in the next few seasons and not have too many changes.” While qualification for Europe is, once again, out of their hands, Marmion is hoping that Connacht and Leinster – Challenge Cup finalists – can do some mutual back scratching.

Rivals this season, Marmion and Fionn Carr are on Connacht’s books for 2013/14 and beyond. (©INPHO/James Crombie)

“We will be cheering for Leinster when they play Stade Francais,” said Marmion. “Obviously, a win for them means Heineken Cup qualification for us. I’m confident that they can get the win.” Marmion added:

If we do Leinster a favour by beating Glasgow and get them a home semi-final they might pay us back in a couple of weeks.”

The scrumhalf, who trained with the Irish team during the Six Nations, reveals that, in a similar manner to the Munster squad, Connacht’s players watch the Lions squad announcement together after a morning training session. “Mike McCarthy was the only member of the squad with a genuine chance [of going],” said Marmion,”so it was disappointing that he did not get the call.”

Marmion would have been 17 when the Lions last played, in South Africa, four years ago. When pressed for a stand-out memory he recalls Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll linking up well in midfield. Cricket, Marmion explains, was a consuming passion during his teenage years. The Brecon native often went along to watch Glamorgan in the County Championship. He commented:

I played a lot more cricket than rugby when I was younger. I was a wicketkeeper and played for Wales until I was 17. I wasn’t quite like Adam Gilchrist [big-hitter] but I got my fair share of sixes.”

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While the Connacht Faithful with ‘Front Up, Rise Up’ for departing players Johnny O’Connor, Adrian Flavin and Mike McCarthy, Marmion expects Elwood to get the biggest cheer of the night. “You can see from [new coach] Pat Lam that he has the ambition to bring Connacht on to another level so that is encouraging,” said Marmion.

He added, “Tonight, though, is a night to pay tribute to the guys that got us to where we are now.”

*RTE2 will cover Connacht v Glasgow live but the province is hoping for a capacity crowd to send Elwood & co. off in style.

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