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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 11 April 2021

McKeon and Connacht looking to repeat 2015 heroics at Thomond Park

Andy Friend’s men have already booked their place in the Pro14 play-offs but have a chance to build winning momentum this weekend.

McKeon pictured at the Sportsground this week.
McKeon pictured at the Sportsground this week.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT BACK ROW Eoin McKeon believes history can repeat itself and that a win in Munster this weekend could be a crucial stepping stone to Pro14 glory.

Andy Friend’s side have already secured Champions Cup rugby for next season and nailed down a Pro14 quarter-final away to Ulster with a round to spare. 

In November 2015, Connacht went to Limerick and won 18-12, a first victory there in the professional era, and it helped inspire the western province to a famous Pro12 title win that season. 

McKeon, who made his Connacht debut during the 2009/10 season, knows a win over Munster on Saturday night could be just as significant even if the result will have no bearing on their final Conference A standing. 

“It’s different to 2016. It’s hard to relate back, there are a few of the same guys but it is a different squad, coaches, staff,” the 27-year old said. 

“I don’t like comparing year to year. But I am sure that experience will pay dividends as we get into those knockout games. The experience of some of the lads who were there a few years ago will come through.

“But it is all about us here and looking forward. The job Andy Friend has done and the squad has been great this year. So hopefully we will be able to keep going.

“The Champions Cup was a goal of ours at the start of the year and that is one box ticked off. The next one is to win this competition again. We still have everything to play for going forward.

“It is nice to have that European spot nailed down but that is done now and secured. Now the next focus is onto winning this competition.”

Pat Lam celebrates winning Pat Lam celebrates with his players at Thomond Park back in 2015. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

McKeon has scored 13 tries in 126 appearances for Connacht, and was one of the stars of their 2016 triumph. And the Galway native is desperate to fight for his place in the team ahead of the trip to Belfast.

“To say we have nothing to play for this weekend is a bit remiss,” said McKeon.

“Any time there is an inter-pro we always say the easiest thing to get is the physicality and motivation because it is an inter-pro.

“Some of us have to dial it down because lads are probably getting too frantic and amped up on a Tuesday when we are not playing until the Saturday. A lot of the guys want to put their best foot forward going forward for the following game against Ulster.

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“We have a lot to play for still. I know we don’t have as much because we already have that spot secured. But for players, personally as a team, to get in for that quarter-final game is huge.

“We leave that job to the coaches, let them worry three or four weeks in advance. We just have to worry about the weekend. That is the easy job we have.”

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Daragh Small

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