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Connacht hope strong Galway record helps them back to winning ways

Andy Friend’s side need a big performance when they host Ospreys in a crunch game this weekend.

CONNACHT BACK ROW Eoin McKeon is expecting a frantic challenge from Ospreys when the sides meet at the Sportsground this weekend in a crunch Heineken Champions Cup qualifying game. 

Last weekend’s heavy defeat to Pro14 Conference A rivals Glasgow Warriors was a setback for Connacht, but they have the chance to respond when Ospreys visit Galway on Saturday afternoon [KO 2.45pm, TG4/Premier Sports].

Eoin McKeon McKeon at the Sportsground this week. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster and Glasgow are running away with the division, but Connacht, Ospreys, Cheetahs and Cardiff are in a points war for the final play-off spot. 

A 22-17 loss in Bridgend last October saw Ospreys claim the honours when the sides last met, while a second defeat in Wales against Cardiff in January saw more vital points dropped.

McKeon says is vital that Connacht immediately shake off poor performances like those against the Warriors in round 17.

“In professional sport you have to be able to park those losses. Games come up fast and if you hold on to a bad loss it just carries on to the next game,” said 27-year-old McKeon.

“We’ve left it behind us now and our preparations have set us up nicely for the weekend.

“The Ospreys game was one disappointing performance and the Cardiff game at the end of the last block was one as well. I think when we looked back at the block as a whole we knew it was a really good block.

“The Cardiff game at the end of it put a bit of a stain on it. We felt like we left it behind us there but on reflection, we actually had a good block.”

A win over Cheetahs a fortnight ago gave Connacht a massive boost as they seek a return to the latter stages of the Pro14 for the first time since their title-winning year of 2016.

And despite wanting to focus on their own progression, McKeon says it’s impossible not to track what their conference rivals are up to.

Eoin McKeon The flanker is set to start this weekend. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We are keeping an eye on them, it’s hard not to notice who’s around you in the table,” he continued. “I don’t think it will affect how we approach the game though. Nothing changes.

“We have our game plan as along as we stick to it and do it well, execute it right we’ll get the win. If we start worrying about the consequences of the game, I think that’s when we put ourselves under needless pressure and start making errors.

“Every time I play Ospreys I always say it: ‘the 40 minutes is gone before you even know it’. It is just a fast tempo game.

“We’d be expecting a lot of kicking from them too, but we’ll stay within our system. If we see the opportunities there we’re going to take them. We’ll stay patient and not try and force anything.”

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Declan Rooney

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