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20-year-old Delahunt gets first start in Connacht's crucial Italian test

Head coach Pat Lam has made five changes as the westerners look to get back to winning ways.

Kieran Marmion continues at scrum-half for Connacht.
Kieran Marmion continues at scrum-half for Connacht.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

20-YEAR-OLD HOOKER Shane Delahunt will make his first Pro12 start for Connacht in the same week as he signed an academy contract with the province.

The Birr native has been named in Pat Lam’s starting XV to face Treviso tomorrow evening at Stadio Monigo [KO 19.00 Irish time], one of five changes to the side that drew with Cardiff in Galway last weekend.

Delahunt is joined in the front row by Denis Buckley and Rodney Ah You, who replace Ronan Loughney and Ireland hopeful Nathan White respectively.

Eoin McKeon comes into the team at openside flanker, meaning Willie Faloon drops to the bench, while Matt Healy starts on the left wing in place of Danie Poolman.

Elsewhere, Lam has gone for continuity as Connacht face into an important win after two win-less weekends. The in-form Kieran Marmion starts at scrum-half again, while Craig Ronaldson keeps his spot at 12 after a man of the match display against the Blues.

Filo Paulo and Josh Navidi tackle Shane Delahunt Delahunt has been used off the bench in the last two Connacht games. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

With Jason Harris-Wright and Sean Henry still sidelined, and Tom McCartney currently involved in the ITM Cup in New Zealand, Delahunt has been handed responsibility in the number two shirt.

The former Kilkenny College student came through Leinster’s underage system, before being capped by Ireland U20s in January of this year. He is now tasked with helping to remedy Connacht’s recent line-out problems after securing his academy deal this week.

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Rodney Ah You; Mick Kearney, Quinn Roux; John Muldoon (capt.), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Aly Muldowney, Willie Faloon, Ian Porter, Dave McSharry, Danie Poolman.

Treviso: Jayden Hayward; Ludovico Nitoglia, Luca Morisi, Enrico Bacchin, Michele Campagnaro; Sam Christie, Edoardo Gori; Matteo Zanusso, Davide Giazzon, Rupert Harden; Marco Fuser, Corniel Van Zyl (capt.); Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni, Mat Luamanu.

Replacements: Amar Kudin, Albert Anae, Romulo Acosta, Antonio Pavanello, Tomas Vallejos Cinalli, Francesco Minto, Simone Ragusi, Alberto Lucchese.

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Murray Kinsella

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