Connacht Rugby’s victory over Cardiff at the Sportsgrounds on Satrurday afternoon was a big win for the West.
In immediate terms it secures a place in the Finals series of the Guinness Pro 14, the winning of which tournament in 2016 remains a high water mark for Rugby in the province.
In the longer term it gets them back into the European Champions Cup at a time in which plans for the redevelopment of the Sportsgrounds will be judged by those determining the Government’s Large Scale Infrastructure Fund.
The crowd was a sold 6,229 for the cardiff Game, impressive in what was a vicious wind.
The new stadium on the same location will double the size of the potential crowd.
It will demand a €30 million investment, a significant portion of which is hoped to come from the fund.
To have been playing in the European Challenge Cup across the time of evaluetion and decision would have been less compelling.
To have the giants of European Rugby coming to Galway at least three times just off the back of an Irish bid to win the Rugby World Cup that wil feature a number of players from the province is as good a script as one could write.
The deadline for submission of applications for the fund is this Wednesday, again serendipity is pointing the way of the province.
The win over Cardiff was hard fought and dramatic. A loss would have been cruel but the importance of the win could hardly be overstated.
Next up is the final regular season game, a trip to Munster then Ulster await in the Quarter Final.
When Connacht went all the way three years ago the final was played in Scotland at Murrayfield. This year’s Final is back in the same country at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Connacht can dream that perhaps that is fate glancing over its shoulder.
An exciting time for the Province.
Join us at our first Sport for Business Breakfast event in Galway on Wednesday, May 22nd. We will gather at Galway Racecourse as part of its 150th birthday celebrations and will host sporting and business leaders from across Galway and further afield for a morning of conversation, collaboration and coming together.