Can Connacht take the final step toward Pro12 glory?

Gerry Thornley and Liam Toland look ahead to their Pro12 final against Leinster this weekend

BY Cian Roche 17:07 Friday 27 May 2016, 17:07 27 May 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland 

Connacht's rousing victory over Edinburgh at the Sportsgrounds last weekend has been symptomatic of their season.

A gutsy display in front of a raucous home crowd, with the right amount of skill and swagger which has benefited them for the duration of the season, saw them run out five point winners in the end.

 Niyi Adeolokun's two tries as well as AJ MacGinty's accuracy from the boot guided them to a first ever final and they will now look to overcome one of Ireland's traditional powerhouses in Leinster.

Johnny Sexton and co. produced a stellar performance of their own to beat Ulster in the RDS and regain whatever pride they had lost from a heavy defeat at Kingspan Stadium.

"All the big game names and trophy hunters came out to play," said Gerry Thornley on Wednesday night's Off The Ball, "Johnny Sexton and Eoin Reddan were outstanding. Devin Toner also had a big game. 

"I remember asking Isa Nacewa before the game did that comment from Joe Barakat about Leinster being predictable add extra motivation and simply his one word answer was 'Yes'."

Connacht's achievement this season has been nothing short of remarkable and Thornley insists that even if they lose in Scotland, it will be a platform to grow on next season.

"This is going to count for a lot even if they don't win. We're going to see the biggest ever travelling Green Army there's ever been to a match abroad. I think it's captured the imagination of the public, they've sold loads of season tickets. There's been loads of positive spin-offs.

"By the end of the summer they're going to make a decision about a new stadium or a redeveloped Sportsground. Whether they get this chance again who knows and if they'll get it again any time soon. 

"We all bemoan the fact that it's not being held in the Aviva or the RDS but in many respects it being in Murrayfield can only favour Connacht. The Leinster squad is the Irish team in disguise, most of them know the Aviva very well. It's a glorified second home for Leinster. They play one if not two games there every season.  

"Most Connacht players will have never played in the Aviva in their lives and they've got atrocious record in the RDS."

You can hear the full preview of this weekend's final by clicking the podcast below.



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