Bradley rewarded by Magners League

Connacht coaches: Michael Bradley, after receiving the Chairman’s Award at the Magners League awards, pictured with former Connacht  and current Wales coach Warren Gatland, and Bradley’s successor Eric Elwood.

Connacht coaches: Michael Bradley, after receiving the Chairman’s Award at the Magners League awards, pictured with former Connacht and current Wales coach Warren Gatland, and Bradley’s successor Eric Elwood.

Michael Bradley's seven years as Connacht Rugby's director of coaching was rewarded in Wales this week.

Bradley, who stepped down from the role at the end of last season, was presented with a special award at the Magners League Awards Dinner in Cardiff on Monday evening.

The former Connacht coach, who has yet to find another coaching position, received the Chairman's Award for his "dedication and commitment" to Magners League rugby.

The longest-serving coach since the Magners League was founded, Bradley was also recognised for developing young players.

During his tenure Connacht reached the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup three times, while also recording notable victories over fellow Irish provinces, including an historic 12 - 6 win over Munster two seasons ago.

He was recognised for making the Galway Sportsground one of the most difficult venues for any team to visit, while also grooming players like skipper John Muldoon and hooker Sean Cronin for Irish honours.

Ultimately he failed to realise his cherished ambition to see Connacht advance to the Heineken Cup, but Bradley said he was "thrilled" to have received the award in recognition of his work.

Bradley joined former Connacht, Ireland and current Wales coach Warren Gatland and his successor Eric Elwood at the awards evening in Cardiff’s Millenium Stdium.

Other award winners on the night were: Players’ Player Award, Tommy Bowe (Ospreys ); Young Player of the Season, Tim Visser (Edinburgh ); Coach of the Season, Paul Turner (Newport Gwent Dragons ); Try of the Season - Ken Owens (Scarlets ); Golden Boot Award, Chris Paterson (Edinburgh ); Fairplay Award, Cardiff Blues; Dream Team captain, Ali Kellock (Glasgow Warriors ); Dream Team 2009/2010, Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues ), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys ), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster ), James Hook (Ospreys ), Tim Visser (Edinburgh ), Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors ), Tomas O'Leary (Munster ), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues ), Ken Owens (Scarlets ), Adam Jones (Ospreys ), Leo Cullen (Leinster ), Ali Kellock (Glasgow Warriors ), Jerry Collins (Ospreys ), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors ), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster ).

Injury headache

With the Magners League set to start, Connacht's coaching director Eric Elwood is already try to cope with a host of injuries. However the good news is that Gavin Duffy and Sean Cronin may be available for Connacht’s opener against the Dragons after a softening on the availability of internationals by Irish coach Declan Kidney.

Captain John Muldoon, who underwent surgery on his groin this week, is likely to be out till mid October, while prop Robbie Morris may be forced to retire as a result of a back injury. Also suffering back problems is Johnny O’Connor, who was stretchered off against Harlequins, and he could be out for several weeks.

Ian Keatley, Keith Matthews and Mike McCarthy were other absentees from last week’s 5 - 22 loss to English premiership side Saracens, and Elwood admits the injuries are a concern.

"We are hoping that on the basis of playing just two pre-season games, it will give us time to get these fellows back on the park for the Dragons' match.”

Elwood, who has already called in AIB League player Rob Sweeney for cover, has contacted the IRFU in the hopes of finding a replacement for the experienced Morris, a former English international.

"The important thing now is that we have the two weeks we wanted to get things right, and hopefully the lads will be fresh before a massive game against the Dragons.

"We have had two big tests which we needed. We learned a lot in the first game, made improvements in certain areas, but again we were disappointed with the soft scores we conceded,” Elwood said.

Connacht produced an improved display against Saracens, holding last year's premiership finalists to 5 - 0 at the break before losing by 22 - 5.

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