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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019

Connacht down to the bare bones for season finale after injuries to four key players

Pat Lam has led the province to nine wins and 18 defeats in his first season at the helm. Ospreys are up last.

Jason Harris-Wright is carried off the pitch on Saturday.
Jason Harris-Wright is carried off the pitch on Saturday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT ARE COUNTING the cost of another physically and mentally draining weekend of RaboDirect Pro12 action.

Pat Lam’s men lost Willie Faloon to a hamstring strain just before kick-off against Cardiff on Saturday. During the game, which Connacht lost 22-15 after starting brightly, further injuries accounted for Eoin Griffin [shoulder], Mick Kearney [ankle] and Jason Harris-Wright [shoulder].

Lam revealed, “He dislocated his shoulder so that is massive because Jason is our number one [hooker]. Then you have Sean Henry, who is [injured], and James Rael is out so you are down to Dave Heffernan and Jack Dinneen.

“It has been a frustrating season with injuries, especially with key forwards. We saw that in the final minutes with the experience of that [Cardiff] forward pack.”

Frustrating was a word mentioned on at least six occasions by Lam as he reflected on a home defeat that has his side on course to equal their eighth place finish of last season. Lam admitted the game was not the perfect home send-off for out-going players such as Gavin Duffy, Dan Parks, Frank Murphy and Griffin. “I’m disappointed for the guys and for the other players, the fans, for everybody. It was a great opportunity to win the game,” he said.

We heard the Edinburgh result [a home defeat to Munster] and, at the end of the day, we had the opportunity to get the result and didn’t get it done. That’s frustrating. It’s only of many that we’ve had throughout the season and games we should have won. Those of the things that will hold us in stead for next season because we need to nail those games.”

Lam says he has now learned what his players, individually and collectively, are capable of. “The biggest factor we do lack is experience,” he conceded. “We only have five internationals and experience makes a big difference in that. It is really down to us continuing to build on that and making sure we get better.”

– Additional reporting by Aaron Turner @ConnachtClan

Duffy and Parks in tears as Connacht wave goodbye to legends, and Heineken Cup

Bittersweet send-off for Sportsground legends as Connacht cough up victory to Cardiff

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Patrick McCarry

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