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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 December, 2018
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Elder lemon O'Halloran excited and primed for voyage under fifth Connacht coach

The fullback is now the most-capped player on the books of the western province.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE RETIREMENT OF John Muldoon and Andrew Browne at the end of last season installed Tiernan O’Halloran as the Sportsground’s elder lemon, at least in terms of games played for Connacht.

There are players in the squad older than the 27-year old Clifden man, but none have chalked up the 153 appearances he has amassed since making his debut in front of 875 fans in the Challenge Cup in October 2009 against Madrid club Olympus Rugby.

He has seen enormous change since then and is excited about this new era under Andy Friend. Friend though, marks his fifth Connacht coach, having started out under Michael Bradley, then Eric Elwood, Pat Lam and Kieran Keane before Friend arrived in the summer.

“I’m really looking forward to it now, starting with Scarlets on Saturday,” said O’Halloran, who won the last of his six Irish caps when he scored two tries against Canada in November 2016.

‘We spoke in pre-season about making the Sportsground a fortress again and there is no bigger test now in the next two weeks than Scarlets and Leinster, the defending champions and the losing finalists.

“It’s probably the two best attacking sides in the competition coming here for the next two games and it is really going to show where we are at I suppose and what we are capable of and there is no better way than testing ourselves against that sort of opposition.”

 O’Halloran said that there were enough positives coming out of their losing bonus point in Murrayfield at the weekend when they went down to Edinburgh 17-10 to give them confidence heading into their clash against Scarlets.

Tiernan O'Halloran Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Our big focus last week was our defence and I think we were pretty happy with the way we performed in defence.

“To come back and show our fighting spirit and get the bonus point was a positive for us.

“For me, I have just got my first full pre-season in for about seven or eight years and my body feels good to have that behind me,” he added.

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Declan Rooney

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