Shane Delahunt handed first Connacht start

The young Birr hooker is named in the team to take on Treviso tomorrow night

In the same week that he signed a Connacht Academy contract, 20-year-old Shane Delahunt has been handed his first Pro 12 start at hooker after coming on from the bench in the last two rounds.

Hailing from Birr, Delahunt attended Kilkenny College where he captained the senior team to their first ever Leinster Senior League title in 2011. Having come through the Leinster underage system, Delahunt was included in the 2014 Under-20's Six Nations squad and earned his first cap against Scotland last season.

The young hooker starts in an all-new front row this week with Denis Buckley and Ireland international Rodney Ah You on either side in the frontrow.

Galway man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker while the only change to the backs sees Matt Healy start on the left wing while Danie Poolman is included amongst the replacements along with Dave McSharry and Ian Porter.

Connacht coach Pat Lam said: " We've made a few changes to the pack for our game against Treviso. We travel this week without Nathan (White) who just missed out due to a minor neck strain.

“Rodney (Ah You) and Denis (Buckley) return to start and are charged with looking after young Academy forward Shane Delahunt who earns his first start. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Shane who has come off the bench the last two games for a few minutes.

"Without the injured hookers Jason (Harris-Wright) and Sean (Henry) as well as the wait for Tom (McCartney) from his Auckland commitments, Shane joined the squad in pre-season and we have been very impressed with his attitude and work ethic.

“Treviso are a tough team to play away, especially up front where they will look to disrupt us. We showed last season at Stadio Monigo what can happen to us when we don’t play as a team and we haven’t let ourselves forget that in our preparations this week.

“Treviso will be looking for their first win of the season and at home in front of their home crowd but it’s up to us to ensure the focus is on getting our processes right in order to carry on the winning momentum from the start of the season.”

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Rodney Ah You; Mick Kearney, Quinn Roux; John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu. Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Aly Muldowney, Willie Faloon, Ian Porter, Dave McSharry, Danie Poolman.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer