Bealham and Dillane travel to France with Connacht after World Cup disappointment

The pair are set to feature for Andy Friend’s side against Oyonnax tomorrow.

FINLAY BEALHAM AND Ultan Dillane will have little time to dwell on the disappointment of being cut from Ireland’s World Cup training squad, as the pair travel to France as part of Connacht’s pre-season preparations.

Bealham was yesterday confirmed as one of three players to be dropped from Joe Schmidt’s plans, while second row Dillane was released back to Connacht last week having spent the summer with the national squad.

Finlay Bealham Bealham was one of three players released this week. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Connacht pair, along with John Cooney, Mike Haley and Rory Scannell, will have been naturally devastated to be cut before getting the chance to impress in warm-up games, but their focus must now switch to the season ahead with their province.

Andy Friend will have been disappointed for his players but the return of both Bealham and Dillane to the Sportsground provides Connacht with a major fillip for the opening weeks of the 2019/20 campaign.

Bealham and Dillane were yesterday part of a 30-man Connacht squad that travelled to France for their first pre-season friendly against Oyonnax Rugby at the Stade Charles-Mathon tomorrow evening [KO 7.30pm Irish time].

Also included in the travelling party were new signings John Porch and Rory Burke, while academy players Seán O’Brien and Seán Masterson will be hoping to get a chance to impress the coaching staff in pre-season action.  

“This game is our first opportunity to put into action what we’ve been working on since the start of pre-season training at the beginning of July,” Friend said.

“I’ve been very impressed with the squad in that time and I’m excited to see what the players can offer

“We have brought over a squad of 30 players and it is our intention to give every player a run-out and an opportunity to impress. Oyonnax are a good side so this is the ideal game for us as we get closer to the new season.”

Ahead of their Pro14 season opener against Scarlets on 28 September, Connacht also play a second friendly against Munster in Galway on Saturday 21 September.

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Connacht squad:

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Paul Boyle, Denis Buckley, Matthew Burke, Rory Burke, Jarrad Butler, Robin Copeland, Colby Fainga’a, Cillian Gallagher, Dave Heffernan, Tom McCartney, Ultan Dillane, Joe Maksymiw, Eoghan Masterson, Sean Masterson, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury.

Backs: Niyi Adeolokun, Caolin Blade, Tom Daly, Conor Fitzgerald, Kyle Godwin, Matt Healy, David Horwitz, Darragh Leader, Angus Lloyd, Seán O’Brien, Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Peter Robb. 

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Ryan Bailey

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