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A year of highs and lows: The Guinness Pro12 year in pictures

From Connacht’s remarkable journey to the loss of Anthony Foley.

CONNACHT’S PRO12 VICTORY really was one of the fairytale stories of 2016.

We took a look through the Pro12 year, bringing you right back to January to tell the story through pictures.

We also had a look at the second half of the year, the new campaign which sees Leinster and Munster dominating as of now.

From the highs – Connacht winning the competition for the first time – to the lows – the loss of Anthony Foley – here’s the 2016 Pro12 year in pictures.

Ulster and Munster served up the first interpro of the new year, with Paddy Jackson’s late penalty miss handing Munster victory

Paddy Jackson misses a late penalty to win the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster’s Gerhard van den Heever and Ian Keatley celebrated the win at the final whistle

Gerhard van den Heever and Ian Keatley celebrate at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While Francis Saili and Nick Williams put their colours aside and prayed together

Francis Saili and Nick Williams pray at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Eoghan Masterson scored a try against the Dragons as Connacht came from behind and returned to the top of the table in February

Eoghan Masterson scores his side's third try Source: Craig Thomas/INPHO

Adam Byrne scored his first Leinster try against Zebre the same month

Adam Byrne runs in to score their fourth try Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

While Francis Saili sailed over the line to score his first Munster try against Ospreys

Francis Saili scores a try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Glasgow Warriors beat Munster when the 2015 finalists met in Rugby Park

The Warriors team celebrate the full time whistle Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

While Jamie Ritchie’s Edinburgh side beat Scarlets

Jamie Ritchie celebrates at full time Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Leinster’s white kit got fairly dirty

Peter Dooley Source: Francesca Soli/INPHO

While Connacht just kept on giving

Bundee Aki scores a try Source: Russell Cheyne/INPHO

Munster were making good ground too

Francis Saili Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

But Simon Zebo’s side couldn’t get past Glasgow

Simon Zebo tackled by Tommy Seymour Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Connacht made a big statement by beating Leinster by a single point in March

Andrew Browne, Ronan Loughney and Caolin Blade celebrate after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But were beaten by Ulster the following week

Rory Best consoles Finlay Bealham Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Craig Gilroy got on the scoresheet for Ulster despite Matt Healy’s best efforts

Craig Gilroy and Matt Healy Source: Presseye/Brian Little/INPHO

Munster suffered a 16-13 defeat to Leinster at the start of April

CJ Stander consoled by Jack O'Donoghue at the final whistle Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While Connacht got back on track and added to the Red Army’s misery two weeks later

Kieran Marmion and Eoin McKeon celebrate with try scorer Niyi Adeolokun

They deservedly booked their place in the play-offs

Aly Muldowney and John Muldoon celebrate Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And then beat Glasgow Warriors to set themselves up for the Pro12 final

Bundee Aki celebrates at the end of the match Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Meanwhile Leinster’s Jamie Heaslip celebrated with fan Jennifer Malone as they booked their place in the final having beaten Ulster

Jamie Heaslip celebrates with Jennifer Malone Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The decider in Murrayfield was a hard-fought battle

Peter Robb and Tom McCartney with Sean Cronin Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

But Connacht came out on top, and were crowned Guinness Pro12 champions for the very first time

John Muldoon lifts the PRO12 trophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Understandably, the celebrations were something else

Robbie Henshaw celebrates with champagne after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ultan Dillane celebrates with his mum Ellen Source: James Crombie/INPHO

John Muldoon celebrates Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Connacht team celebrate Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And Pat Lam was a very happy man

John Muldoon celebrates with Pat Lam Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Captain John Muldoon brought the cup home to thousands of fans in Galway to bring the 2015/16 Pro12 season to a close

John Muldoon lifts the trophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The second half of the Pro12 year kicked off very differently for the Westerners, who lost their first three matches

Dave Heffernan and John Muldoon dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster and Leinster got off to better starts

Leinster’s Ian Nagle wins a linnet from Munster’s Peter O’Mahony Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

But Munster and Irish rugby suffered one of it’s darkest hours in October when Anthony Foley passed away

One of the last times head coach Foley walked out to Thomond Park was before Munster took on Edinburgh in their Pro12 victory in September.

Anthony Foley

And Ulster rugby honoured Axel ahead of their clash with Munster later that month with a plaque in the away dressing room in Ravenhill

A plaque to remember Anthony Foley is put up in the Away changing room in Kingspan Stadium Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rory Scannell scored a late drop-goal as his side paid tribute to Foley’s typical battling ways to win by a point

Rory Scannell celebrates his drop goal Source: Presseye/INPHO

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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