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Connacht prop Carey determined to catch up with former Ireland U20 team-mates

The 26-year-old came through the underage levels alongside Tadhg Furlong, Marty Moore and Finlay Bealham.

Carey starts tomorrow's Challenge Cup game against Oyonnax.
Carey starts tomorrow's Challenge Cup game against Oyonnax.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT PROP CONOR Carey is hoping to push on this spring and start emulating some of the achievements enjoyed by the tightheads he came through with on an exceptional Irish U20 squad.

Carey has impressed for Connacht this season and with Finlay Bealham ruled out for a few weeks, the 26-year-old has an opportunity to make progress.

Carey, whose first campaign with Connacht last season was disrupted by a five-month foot injury, came to prominence with an Ireland U20 squad where the tighthead competition came from Tadhg Furlong, Marty Moore and Bealham.

All the other three have been capped by Ireland and Carey, who joined Connacht after a stint with Nottingham, is keen to push on after coming through with that exceptional bunch of tightheads under Mike Ruddock’s guidance in 2011.

“It was a few years ago, you didn’t think Ireland had many tightheads and now there seems to be 10 very good ones. Andrew Porter is 21, he is a freak, and there are more coming through,” said Carey.

He has chalked up 30 appearances for Connacht, 18 of them this season and has played in all five Challenge Cup games and is hoping to nail down a home quarter-final when the western province take on Oyonnax at the Sportsground tomorrow [KO 2.30pm].

“It’s gone well. I am injury-free which is good. I am enjoying it. I am enjoying the competition. Finlay has been playing some of the best rugby I have seen him playing since they won the Pro12. He has rightly had the three shirt for most of the season.

Conor Carey and Finlay Bealham celebrate The prop is in his second season with Connacht. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I have been trying to up my game to try to displace him. In recent weeks I have put in some decent performances and I hope the two of us can keep pushing. It only makes us better and we’ve got Dominic Roberston-McCoy coming back as well. Before he got injured he was pushing really hard. He went really well against Worcester last time. There is a lot of competition there.”

The 24-24 draw away to Worcester last weekend has left Connacht fighting a battle to make a top two seeding which would secure a home semi-final if they advance, but Carey stressed they aren’t looking beyond Saturday’s game.

“We can’t really look on past the quarter-final. We need to go well this weekend. We need to secure a home quarter-final. It would be great to have it here at the Sportsground.

“The atmosphere against Ulster was possibly the best atmosphere I have ever played in front of. It reminded me of Toulouse and Wasps last year. It will just be amazing having a quarter-final here in Galway and having it in our own hands,” he added.

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