"It was a difficult year for everyone involved" - Connacht Rugby CEO on Keane era and Sportsground plans

Willie Ruane also chatted to Joe Molloy about the positive start to the new season

BY Raf Diallo 17:17 Wednesday 10 October 2018, 17:17 10 Oct 2018

Connacht have started the current Guinness Pro14 season in decent fashion under new head coach Andy Friend, but off the pitch they have exciting developments in the pipeline.

This week, the province unveiled plans for the redevelopment of their Sportsground stadium in Galway that will cost in the region of €30 million and will have a capacity of 12,000 spectators.

Joe Molloy was joined by Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane to discuss the new development and he touched on why they chose to stay at the Sportsground location rather than move elsewhere in the city.

"From an infrastructure perspective, we're very close to the city centre and that helps in creating the atmosphere and a match and a night at the Sportsground is in a Connacht Rugby centre," he said. 

"Outside of that, we're close to the main bus station, we're very close to the main train station and we're on the side of the city that is more easily accessible if you want to come from Mayo or Sligo or Leitrim or the rest of the province - or indeed if you want to come from outside the province. That accessibility was obviously very important."

He also detailed the on-field aspects of the new development. 

"We'll look at synthetic surfaces and obviously one aspect of it is performance and allowing the players to express themselves in a way they believe they can and they're certainly well capable of," said Ruane.

He also chatted about the start to the season where Connacht are fourth in Conference A of the Pro14 after three wins from six including against Ulster in their inter-pro clash. It's a contrast from the difficult 2017-18 under Kieran Keane who was relieved of his duties at the end of that campaign.

"[Last year] was a tricky one for everyone," he said.

"It was a difficult year for everyone involved, including Kieran, in fairness to him as well. No one sets out for something not to work out but we had to make that decision and we've moved on from it.

"Andy is in situ now and things are going very well. He's a super guy and the players are performing on the pitch. I'm delighted for them as well." 

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