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Dublin: 11 °C Monday 23 September, 2019
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Fionn Carr reveals he turned down Leinster contract for Connacht return

The winger missed out on famous Heineken Cup clashes out West but is eager for big nights in Galway this season.

Come back to what you know: Carr returns to Galway.
Come back to what you know: Carr returns to Galway.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

FIONN CARR MISSED out on the Heineken Cup fun in Galway over the past two seasons but he is determined to bring his try-scoring touch to the party this time out.

The winger is back at the Sportsground after two years back with his home province of Leinster. He made 33 appearances in blue and crossed for eight tries yet often missed out on the muck and bullets of Europe’s premier club competition.

Carr made an extremely early decision, back in January, to return to Connacht and insists he has made the right decision. Then-Leinster coach Joe Schmidt bemoaned his late last season, most vociferously when Andrew Conway, another pacy winger, jumped ship to Munster.

He told TheScore.ie, “Leinster had also offered me a contract last season but I made the decision myself and I’m delighted to get the chance to play under Pat Lam. I really enjoyed my two years and Leinster and played with a great bunch of lads. We won a Heineken Cup, Pro12, Challenge Cup and B&I Cup when I was there so there are lots of great memories.

Eric Elwood was still there [as Connacht coach] when the prospect of the move first came up. I talked to Joe and I also talked to the Connacht management and made the decision to return.”

Connacht supporters will be delighted to see Carr on the left wing again this season. During his time at the province, the 27-year-old Dubliner earned the title of all-time leading try scorer with 34 dot-downs.

Players such as Danie Poolman, Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry all crossed the whitewash for the province last season but will have to enjoy monumentally good careers to threaten Carr’s ongoing record. The winger is impressed with the young guns on the rise out West but is confident he can add to his points total and keep the try-scoring crown.

While there are many new faces at the club since he left in 2011, Carr says all were united over the past two months in cheering on recently arrived lock Craig Clarke. The New Zealander captained the Chiefs to Super Rugby success for the second season running and was officially introduced to the Connacht faithful at half-time of their 31-7 pre-season loss to Wasps.

“We were all cheering Craig and the Chiefs on over the summer,” said Carr. “I chatted to him briefly at the weekend and he is raring to go for the new season. I’ve seen him play quite a bit and he has these great leadership qualities. He is a top-notch player.”

Stalwarts such as Adrian Flavin and Johnny O’Connor have hung up their rugby boots but, with sides like Saracens and Toulouse on the Heineken Cup agenda, Connacht will need every ounce of quality that new arrivals like Clarke, Carr and James So’oialo can muster.

imageThe new Connacht home and away jerseys are available in stores from 23 August. Pre-orders can be made here.

Joe Schmidt is now Ireland coach and has been a regular visitor to the Sportsground since his appointment. Carr sees the Kiwi’s presence, and encouraging words, as a sign that international rugby is still possible.

He said, “Joe came down and stated that if we’re performing well on the pitch and doing well in our competitions that we have a chance of call-ups. I want to stake a claim for a Connacht jersey first and see how I go from there.”

Connacht, meanwhile, confirmed that fullback Gavin Duffy has been ruled out ‘four to five weeks’ after a fracture to his cheekbone was revealed in medical scans.

*A limited number of Clan Stand season tickets are available ahead of the league kick-off on Saturday, 7 September. Click here for more information>>>

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Patrick McCarry

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