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'It's credit to how Connacht have played' - Ireland benefit from the Lam effect

Five Connacht men were on the pitch for Ireland at the same time on Saturday.

PAT LAM HAS quickly become the most popular coaching figure in Ireland, with his Connacht side sitting on top of the Guinness Pro12 table.

The national team are beginning to reap the rewards of the western province’s excellent form too, with Saturday’s win over Italy seeing five Connacht men on the pitch for Ireland at once. History was made, and deservedly so.

Kieran Marmion, Nathan White, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Robbie Henshaw celebrate Saturday was a proud day for Connacht. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Kieran Marmion was one of those five players, replacing Conor Murray in the second half and adding tempo to Ireland’s game. The 24-year-old highlighted Lam’s part in himself, Robbie Henshaw, Ultan Dillane, Nathan White and Finlay Bealham being picked by Joe Schmidt.

“It’s great, I think it’s credit to how Connacht have played this year, and credit to Pat and the coaches there to be able to develop the players and push them on,” said Marmion after Ireland’s 58-15 victory.

I think in Connacht at the moment lads have seriously stepped up their game, there are more lads in Connacht pushing for places as well so in the future there will be more there as well.

“I think as a province we’re getting stronger every week when we play.

“Hopefully we can push on this year and achieve history there as well. I think lads stepping up for Ireland can only be good for Connacht in the future.”

Marmion won his first Six Nations cap on Saturday, having previously played four times under Schmidt. With Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss both in the twilight of their careers, the Connacht man’s time is very much coming.


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Kieran Marmion passes Marmion came off the bench for Conor Murray. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

The scrum-half believes that Connacht’s next generation will be buoyed by seeing the likes of himself, 22-year-old Dillane and 24-year-old Finlay Bealham playing for Ireland.

“Lads know they can get into the Irish team,” said Marmion. “In Connacht at the moment if a lad gets injured, another one steps up and it doesn’t really make a difference for us and I think that’s huge for us going forward.

“And again, I believe with a few good games… Ultan’s only played 12 Connacht games and he’s straight into the Irish team, so it’s possible for all the lads.”

- This article was updated at 9.08am to correct Finlay Bealham’s name.

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Murray Kinsella

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