Dreams do come true. In 2003 Connacht Rugby was facing extinction as the IRFU proposed shutting it down as a professional team to cut costs, in light of the IRFU’s annual deficit of €4 million. So winning the Guinness Pro12 in Murrayfield against fellow countrymen Leinster on a sun-drenched Saturday in May, is what dreams are made of.
“You always believe, but when you’re going through tough days it’s always harder to believe,” John Muldoon, Captain, Connacht.
33,450 Irish men, women and children watched as Connacht scored three tries and stood tall when Leinster unleashed a last quarter fight-back.
Trailing by three scores it was a long way back but Leinster aren’t a champion side for nothing. After a spell of possession and with O’Halloran receiving treatment, Leinster opened up space on the right and replacement Cronin raced over. Sexton converted from a tricky angle to make it 20-10 going into the last 12 minutes.
Connacht had lost replacement scrum-half John Cooney to injury, leaving Healy to fill in at nine for the closing stages.
However he stepped up admirably, and after a few nervy moments, Connacht were able to play out the final minutes in Leinster territory and seal the famous win.
the Pat Lam influence
Pat Lam arrived in Connacht to a fan-base excited with belief and anticipating glory. Pat attributes Connacht’s phoenix from the flames revival to the camaraderie on and off the pitch.
Here at The Skeff Bar we’ve watched fan after fan come in with passion in their heart and a winning-mentality in their veins. So when Saturday May 28th came around we wanted to speak to those fans about their hopes. We did this with the launch of our new Facebook Live feature Skeff Sports 1.
Bartender Eoin Kelly stepped up to be our host and did a fantastic job on his debut presenting role. Despite a few sarcastic words of advice from his Skeff colleagues, he remained calm and collected and really impressed us! He also impressed our customers who moved closer to watch the interviews. They loved the feature so much they were taking selfies with him!
Watch Skeff Sports 1 on Facebook Live
Eoin interviews Leinster Fan Anthony from Rathgar in Dublin and Connacht fan James from Galway. Be sure to watch out for Skeff Sports 1 coming to your Facebook newsfeed very soon!
A Heroes’ Welcome
Meanwhile, back in Galway the homecoming of the green is the big talking point. An open top bus, thousands of Connacht Rugby fans who won’t be silenced and a feeling of anything is possible. The winning team arrive in Galway City at 4pm and from there will make their way to the Galway Sportsgrounds.
victorious members of the Connacht Rugby squad will make their way on an open-topped bus from outside the Town Hall Theatre in Courthouse Square, via Saint Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Williamsgate Street and on to Eyre Square North, Eyre Square East, turning on to Forster Street and then via College Road to the home of Connacht Rugby at The Sportsground where they will be a accorded a heroes’ welcome.
TRENDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
We took a look through social media to capture the feelings of Connacht Rugby fans. I think you’ll agree, pride in the green is most apparent, even from the outsiders!
Tony Ward wells up with emotion
RTÉ sports commentator Tony Ward evoked quite a reaction across all social networks with his emotional post-match commentary.
“THE NEW ALL BLACKS!”
Rugby-great Ronan O’Gara tweeted and Twitter had a melt-down!
Connacht are the new All Blacks..
— Ronan O Gara (@RonanOGara10) May 28, 2016
SKEFF SPORT FANS RAISE OUR 166-YEAR OLD ROOF
The roof of the 1850 Skeff rattled as Skeff Sport fans erupted when the final whistle blew in Murrayfield. Assistant Bar Manager Mary Brennan captured the atmosphere from Bar 3.
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE
It’s not a dream it’s bloody real! Fantastic photo from man of the match John Muldoon from Instagram.
— Niamh Connolly (@niamhgalway) May 29, 2016
TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY IN FINE FORM AFTER BRUCE springsteen concert
We still can’t get Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s air guitar moves out of our heads, but his tweet of support went viral. A proud Connacht man today!
Brilliant for Connacht – magnificent journey since March on Lansdowne to save our team -they will sing “The Fields ” tonight! #pro12final
— Enda Kenny (@EndaKennyTD) May 28, 2016
2,000 people thronged the streets of Galway for the heroes’ homecoming. As we wake up on Monday morning you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the morning after the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But oh no – it’s the Connacht Rugby fans roar of the green, loud and proud.
WATCH THE SPEECHES AT THE HOMECOMING
Thanks to Emer Carr for capturing this footage.