Loosehead prop Peter Dooley said he would love to win silverware with Connacht after his summer move to the Sportsground after a decade with his native Leinster.
The 28-year-old from Birr played 104 games for Leinster, but just eight of those were in the Heineken Cup as he battled for game-time against the likes of Cian Healy, Andrew Porter and Jack McGrath.
And while Connacht have this year dropped to the Challenge Cup, former Irish U-20 Dooley is looking forward to leading the way as they host Newcastle Falcons this Saturday and then travel to Brive the following week.
“It’s European rugby at the end of the day and you’re playing against some top-quality teams. We’re excited just to play European rugby. That’s the exciting thing about European rugby, you get to compete against English and French teams. It’s been a good few years since Connacht played Newcastle and I’ve never played against them before. The slate is wiped fresh and we’re looking forward to getting going.
“I spent 10 years in Dublin so it’s nice to start fresh. I’m really enjoying it. Kudos to the lads for helping me settle in. I had some really close friends before coming down and have made some more already, and I’m only here six months. I’m loving life down in Galway.”
He’s played seven times for Andy Friend’s side, battling away with the long-serving Denis Buckley for the No.1 spot and he’s hopeful Connacht have turned a corner after a difficult start.
But while Newcastle are struggling near the bottom of the Premiership with six losses from nine, he reckons they will come to Galway and have a right go.
“We’ve dissected their maul in detail, which is very good. They really came at London Irish’s scrum over the weekend, and thumped Exeter a few weeks ago. They’re not a bad side at all.
“They’re going to come here and see this as a new competition. They’ve probably struggled domestically but will have a real crack here. I’ve no doubt they’ll tear into us from the off,” added Dooley.
At Connacht, Dooley hopes to make up for some of the silverware he missed out on a lot back in Dublin.
“When I was at Leinster, I wasn't involved in too many squads which actually won too much silverware. You were in the extended squad and were preparing the lads as best as you can.
“So, winning the Challenge would be really exceptional for me. That's obviously on the long finger. I just want to be involved with matchday 23s going to places we've never been so that we can drive on.
"I played in the Pro 12 at the time when Connacht beat Leinster to win it and I saw what it meant to the province at that time. It was unreal. And to give them days to the Connacht people and the Connacht supporters would be unreal.
"And for me as a competitive person myself, just to win any type of silverware would be great.”