Connacht are back! That's the message from Andy Dunne with the province winning six of their last seven matches in all competitions.
A return to form, after a difficult season last year under Kieran Keane, sees them occupy an automatic qualifying spot for next year's Heineken Champions Cup while the men from the west have also won three of their four matches in the Challenge Cup.
"I think it's the first three in each conference that are getting automatic qualification for Europe and...they're there or there abouts for automatic qualification so it's a huge carrot for Connacht" Dunne told Ger on Wednesday's OTB AM.
"We can't really underestimate when we look at United and Mourinho and Solsjkaer - obviously with a slightly lesser focus globally - Connacht Rugby weren't a happy camp with Kieran Keane and just the change in management - what it's done to invigorate or re-invigorate a lot of key players down there.
"Happy players are generally better players and guys who are given opportunities and feel positive going into work everyday are generally guys who will perform better.
"And, I think, Connacht have managed to change that and develop that from Kieran Keane's reign and I think that's showing," he added.
The Westerners have been traditionally viewed as the smallest of the Irish rugby provinces and Dunne was keen to highlight the good work that has gone on behind the scenes in the recent past, saying: "They've also generated a lot of good will and momentum and support down in Galway city. When I was playing down in Connacht - you'd do well to get a couple of thousand at a match, albeit ten years ago...at the time, it felt rugby wasn't a priority down there and very understandably so."
Connacht recently released plans to redevelop their home at the Sportsground - with an injection of roughly €30 million - which will increase capacity at the venue to 12,000.