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'The whole place is different' - Connacht and Marmion maintain momentum

The 22-year-old scored a superb second-half try to help his side to the top of the Pro12.

Marmion breaks past Rob Kearney for his second-half try.
Marmion breaks past Rob Kearney for his second-half try.

CONNACHT SCRUM-HALF Kieran Marmion admits there is an entirely different feeling around the Connacht set-up this season, with a 10-9 win over champions Leinster in Galway the latest evidence of that shift in mindset and belief.

The 22-year-old was the try-scoring hero of the evening in Galway, but the victory for Pat Lam’s side – which leaves them top of the Pro12 – was built on defensive strength and a calmness under pressure that offers encouragement for the rest of the campaign.

After wins against the Dragons and Edinburgh, this was always likely to be a far firmer test of Connacht’s credentials, and while Leinster will be disappointed with many of their own contributions, the westerners came up trumps.

“It was a great team performance tonight, the character we showed towards the end of that first half and towards the end of the second half,” said Marmion. “It’s just great to continue the winning run.

The first two games have been tight. We showed we can win those games. Winning’s a habit and that’s exactly what we showed tonight.”

What an exciting prospect it is that Connacht have found that trait, although next Friday’s trip to Glasgow Warriors will almost certainly ask Pat Lam’s men to step up another level again.

That Scottish trip will be undertaken with some confidence, however, as the positive buzz around Connacht continues to grow. The Sportsground was raucous this evening, creating an atmosphere that Marmion thrived in.

“The whole place is definitely different at the moment,” said the scrum-half. “Obviously, having such a good start to the season has lifted everyone around the province.

Pat Lam and Robbie Henshaw celebrate after the game Head coach Pat Lam shares a hug with Robbie Henshaw. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“[The support was] absolutely fantastic. It certainly carried us through towards the end there. It’s probably the loudest the Sportsground has been since I’ve been here. It’s just fantastic for Connacht rugby.”

Marmion’s stock will continue on the same upward curve as his province’s after his excellent individual display. Ireland coach Joe Schmidt shared a joke or two with the scrum-half outside the changing rooms afterwards, and Marmion will be hopeful of adding to his collection of two caps over the coming season.

The youngster was typically shy in his recollection of the try he scored in the second half, but there is little doubt it was a peach. Marmion darted through Leinster’s defence from the base of a ruck and beat last man Rob Kearney with some clever footwork.

I don’t remember too much of it,” laughed Marmion. “I was just running with the ball and saw a gap, just went for it. Luckily it was there.”

Simple as that? Instead, the 22-year-old pushed the praise towards the collective effort.

“It’s just the character the lads showed tonight in defence. Some of the hits going in, getting off the line, everyone did their bit in that game and it showed towards the end,” said Marmion.

Long may it continue.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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