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The reason behind the unspoken rivalry between Leinster and Connacht - Leinster's Andy Dunne

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

08:49 19 Dec 2018


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It might be one of the less-heralded sporting rivalries within Ireland, but Leinster and Connacht have an underlying rivalry that could spill over as the teams meet on Saturday in the Pro 14.

Former Leinster man Andy Dunne joined Dave McIntyre and Keith Wood in studio for Wednesday Night Rugby with Eir Sport. Andy talked us through the tensions between the two provinces, and provided insight into why they came to be.

"There is a story within a story underlying the Leinster and Connacht rivalry of recent history.

"There is a latent dislike in Leinster for the couple of losses that they have picked up in Galway. They won't say it - from a communications point of view, they won't say it.

"There is a resentfulness in them that they have gone down to Connacht at times when Leinster's peacock is shining, and they have been picked off in Galway.

"A couple of times when it mattered in a conference game, or for league points, and the resentfulness came from the fact that Connacht were raising their game for a huge match for Leinster, but were not backing it up in a game either side - say a Zebre.

"It was a criticism that was never publicised, but it caused resentment in the Leinster camp for the last seven or eight years."

Andy's comments raise the spectre of Sir Alex Ferguson's comments of the mid-1990s, where he accused other clubs of treating games against Manchester United like their cup final, while letting title rivals away with an easier ride.

Perhaps the situation will be resolved this Saturday as Leinster take on Connacht in the RDS.

Cooney v Carbery

Andy also believes that John Cooney up against Joey Carbery could be the battle of the weekend in the other Inter-Provincial match this weekend - Ulster v Munster.

There will be an underlying narrative between the two native kickers, as Joey Carbery will be looking to leave behind a disappointing performance against Castres. But it is John Cooney that has been drawing Andy's eye in recent weeks.

"Cooney if, for my mind, the most underrated player in Irish rugby at the moment. What he has done in terms of his contribution to Ulster Rugby has been huge, for someone who was a bit part player in other provinces.

"He has kicked last-minute conversions and penalties to win key games.

"His contribution as an attacking threat is perhaps not where Marmion and McGrath are - their passing is similar. I will be interesting to see where things pan out this weekend - he could be a dark horse for the World Cup squad."

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Belfast Connacht Connacht Rugby Galway Leinster Leinster Rugby Munster Munster Rugby Rugby Ulster Rugby

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