Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 4°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Daly dials in big-game moment to underline his value to Connacht

The Carlow man is hungry for opportunity in Connacht and has been on the phone to tell Andy Friend as much.

A BRASS TACKS phone call early in the week, a first-half injury and suddenly Tom Daly had something of a point to prove in the centre for Connacht.

There was no way of predicting the part the Carlow man would ultimately play in turning a dispiriting home loss into a rousing comeback win in the space of five minutes against Gloucester. Yet it was the perfect way to signal to Andy Friend that he is worthy of more game-time in green.

tom-daly-offloads-to-robin-copeland-to-score-the-winning-try-14122019 Moment of truth: Daly prepares to offload into Copeland's hands. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The week that ended with Daly powering over the gainline with an 80th-minute carry and lofting up a beautifully-timed offload into the path of Robin Copeland had begun with him growing frustrated at his omission from the starting line-up.

With Tom Farrell injured, Peter Robb was selected to start alongside Bundee Aki in Gloucester. Six days on, Kyle Godwin was in and Daly remained a replacement. So the 26-year-old posed the difficult questions to his coach.

All’s well that ends well. And sitting in the Sportsground post-match on Saturday, Friend was able to make light of the tete-a-tete as he slapped Daly on the shoulder.

“Tom, we had a phone call on Monday or Tuesday night, didn’t we? And Tom was saying ‘why am I not starting?’

“But you need these little opportunities. Tom comes on now and does what he just does. Sure as eggs, we will sit down now and say ‘how can we leave this bloke out when he is doing that?’

“That is what is happening at the moment. We have got players who are doing that and pushing each other up the chart. It makes the life of the selector pretty difficult.”

Daly has spent too much of his career waiting in the wings to remain patient and stoic. His time at Leinster was haunted by injury, but he made the move across the Shannon this time last year in search of involvements in match-winning moments.

“There were just big plays all over the park,” says Daly, his eyes signalling the intent he had to contribute one of them.

“The ball ended up in my hands and I said I’d have a go here, try to get over the top of someone.

“Copey just ran a nice line off me. I knew if I could get that away he’d be under the sticks, so I trusted my skill-set and threw it. Luckily enough, he went in.”

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

josh-hohneck-and-alex-seville-tackle-tom-daly-14122019 Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The centre adds:

“It was a really enjoyable finish. I’m getting an opportunity to do things like that over here that maybe I wouldn’t have got over in Leinster. I made the move and it’s really sticking to me and I’m getting the chances I always wanted.”

Not exactly the chance he wanted, of course. Daly was sent on as an early replacement for Niyi Adeolokun. But once on the field he made sure his chance didn’t go to waste.

“The competition in the centre here is pretty fierce. Bundee and Kyle started today and they’re going really well. Tommy (Farrell) has a short-term injury and Petey (Robb) has been really good as well. So we’ve five really good centres and that’s pushing the standard in training and in games.

“You have to play well to keep your position. “

And inflict a few headaches on the coach to get it in the first place.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel