Connacht await IRFU’s approval of new coach

The waiting game continues on the appointment of Connacht’s new rugby coach to replace incumbent Michael Bradley.

Eric Elwood remains the No 1 choice of the Connacht Branch, but this is still to be ratified by the IRFU in whose hands the appointment now lies.

Niall O’Donovan’s name has recently been floated, both as a possible replacement for Bradley or as a forwards coach - the role currently held by Dan McFarland. However Connacht Branch CEO Gerry Kelly says while considerable interest had been expressed in the post, it was “inevitable” that when a coaching appointment became available in Ireland, O’Donovan’s name, along with others, would be mentioned. O’Donovan is currently working alongside Michael Bradley as a forwards coach to the Ireland A side.

Kelly confirmed the branch had selected its candidate and was awaiting approval from the IRFU.

With player contracts currently being examined, there is a growing urgency that the coaching appointment be settled as soon as possible.

“It is the time of the year for negotiating player contracts so there will be players asking questions regarding the new coach,” said Kelly. “We would like the appointment made as soon as possible.”

The Connacht Branch is also awaiting a date for the postponed Magners League fixture against Leinster. With the Dragons pencilled in for St Patrick’s Day, Connacht are still negotiating with Leinster for a suitable date. Connacht had hoped to play the match on either the Friday or Sunday of one of the Six Nations weekends when Ireland is away, but Leinster have not agreed, preferring a midweek tie instead.

On the international front, there has been good news for several Connacht players. Galwegians’ flanker Carol Staunton is named on the Irish women’s team for the opening Six Nations’ game against Italy tomorrow. Staunton joined Galwegians two seasons ago from St Mary’s back in September 2008. Fellow Connacht teammate and Galway native Clare Molloy, who is currently studying and playing club rugby in Wales, joins Staunton on the starting Irish 15, while Alison Miller of Portlaoise RFC and Connacht is named on the wing.

Connacht captain John Muldoon, centre Keith Matthews, fullback Gavin Duffy, and winger Fionn Carr, all featured on the Irish A squad that opened its Six Nations campaign against the Saxons in Bath on Sunday. Ian Keatley and Sean Cronin have also been added to the squad, now renamed the Wolfhounds, that takes on Scotland tomorrow evening in Ravenhill. Duffy remains at fullback, with Cronin in the front row, while Keatley and Matthews are named on the bench.

Corinthians’ centre Eoin Griffin is the sole Connacht player involved with the Irish u-20s this weekend. He is named on the bench.

Connacht Rugby is looking to establish women and girls’ teams to play upcoming touring sides as well as youth teams from other provinces. The training dates are as follows: Minis (from ages 9-12 ): February 13 and March 13, 11am to 12.30pm;U-15s, 17s and 10s: February 13, February 27, March 13, March 27, 12.30pm to 2pm; Development team (adult non-Connacht players ): Same dates as u-15, 2pm to 3.30pm.

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