MEN LIKE MICHAEL Swift and Dan McFarland have earned their reputation as tough competitors the hard way, but they showed their softer side today.
The 37-year-old Connacht lock is retiring at the end of the season, while the province’s forwards coach is heading to Glasgow Warriors for a fresh challenge.
Both have been with Connacht since 2000, McFarland first as a player before moving into the backroom staff when he hung up his boots. This pair have been through the lowest of the lows and the most exhilarating of the highs with the westerners.
And so it was fitting and deserved that Swift and McFarland were honoured at the Sportsground after today’s clash with the Ospreys, as the Connacht faithful on the Clan Terrace showed their respect.
If Pat Lam’s side can beat Gloucester next weekend, Swift and McFarland will be involved in one last game at the Galway venue, but this was a goodbye that brought tears from both Connacht legends.
McFarland and Swift both delivered fine speeches as they thanked the entire province and underlined their belief that Connacht will only continue to grow.
It’s also been confirmed that Miah Nikora, Sean Henry, Mata Fifita and Shane Layden will join the previously confirmed Mick Kearney [Leinster], Willie Faloon [Ulster] and Mils Muliaina [Zebre] in departing Connacht this summer.
“It was an emotional day with Swifty, Miah, Dan, a few of the lads who have been here a long time leaving,” said Connacht captain John Muldoon after presentations to those men on the Sportsground pitch.
“There’s also the lads who haven’t been here a long time, the likes of Mils, Sean and Mata, who’ve only been here recently but they’ve all added something to us.
“At half time we were a little bit disappointed in terms of what we had shown them on their last day, but hopefully we’ll have another day in the Sportsground and do it all over again, send them off with another win.”