Players’ belief in themselves shines through

Galway Advertiser,

Connacht's win over the most decorated Heineken Cup side ranks as one of the best in the European competition, says Gavin Duffy.

"That is the best win we have ever had. It's the best win for any away team in Europe - with their playing staff and resources. We have made huge gains in the last couple of years, but that has to go down as one of the best away wins in the European Cup. When we get it right, we are very good.

"The belief comes from these types of performances - against teams like Toulouse, Saracens and Leinster. Unfortunately we have not got the results, but we have believed in the process and Pat [Lam] keeps us on an even keel. We don't get too low with defeats and we don't get too high when we win."

" There is a realisation that they are hurting and it will a massive challenge for us now. But that is the challenge for Connacht - to do it week-in week-out. It was a special occasion last time they came so now we really look forward to it.”

John Muldoon, one of four Connacht players who started against Toulouse two seasons ago, described the win as "up there with the best".

"Did we think we were going to win? Honest to god we did. Why? Because we do not deserve to be at the bottom of the Magners League. We had a tough week after Edinburgh and there were harsh words and, in fairness, Pat [Lam] gave the majority players the opportunity to redeem themselves because it was not good enough. But we don't believe we are as bad as our results. We knew we had a chance, we dug deep and it wasn't easy.

" We knew we had to be resilient. We worked hard in our defence all week, and we worked hard on ourselves in regards to our state of mind. “We spoke a lot in the last couple of weeks about adversity and how to react to it, so we are extremely happy we won. However we know the return fixture will be massive. If we think that was hard .. well I don't want to take away from the performance, but we know it will be big.

" Two years ago we played quite well, but they got their four tries and we were disappointed. It was a different story tonight. We will be sore for a few days, but its always easier when you win."

Connacht's most successful captain, winner of two Super 15 rugby trophies with the Chiefs, Craig Clarke, says it was all about belief.

"We knew we could win. We were wary of the challenge as they are a strong European Club and have been for many years - we are bottom of our league and they are second in theirs, but we believe in what we do and we knew that if we performed like we do on the track in training, then days like this are possible.

"We are not going to get ahead of ourselves. It's a win and it's a big win and it's certainly a big win for Connacht obviously - they don't happen very often. It's a start. We performed well against Saracens and we beat Zebre and we have performed pretty well here tonight, so we are pleased and there are things to come."

Man of the match and Connacht try scorer scrumhalf Kieron Marmion, said Connacht had left everything on the pitch.

"We showed a lot of heart out there. Our defence was a major factor in the win and we had focused on it before the game. Had we scored the second try, it would have been easier, so we had to dig in, but we have now shown we can do it and we have to back it up with another victory."

Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir says Connacht played with more aggression and more heart than his side.

"Clearly we are disappointed because we expected to win, but now we must turn around and have more concentration next week.

"We played Connacht two years ago and we know they are a good Irish team. They are bottom of their league, but we know they are different when they play in the Heineken Cup because it is special for them, so we should have been more focused.

Despite the €30 million difference in budgets between the two clubs, the former World Player of the Year, said it had nothing to do with money.

"When we play rugby, it is 15 versus 15 on the field and the 15 Irish players were better than us and we will need to be better next week."



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