Long-serving Connacht player Ronan Loughney is relishing life’s big occasions, and he has two to relish in the next three weeks.
The 32-year-old lines out against Glasgow in Connacht’s first Pro12 semi-final, and two weeks later celebrates his marriage in Kerry.
The prop says despite a “few distractions”, the focus is on the “detail and preparation” for tomorrow’s clash at a sold-out Galway Sportsground. “It’s about getting that right because that is what has worked all season, and then the occasion will look after itself,” he said.
The Galway native was one of the first to join Connacht’s new academy in 2004 and has been ever-present in the squad since, learning his trade with Dan McFarland, Glasgow’s current forwards coach.
“This is my 11th year with Connacht and in the last couple of years there have been massive strides.
“Back in those early days I would never have considered being involved in a play-off. For us just getting away from the bottom three or four would have been a massive achievement in those days.
“But our current standing is a testament to the work that has gone in over the last four or five years.”
As one of the leaders in the squad, he believes the experience gained by the younger players has been huge in this year’s improvement. “We have a young squad. Last year there were a lot of games when we were nearly there and that was reflected in the amount of bonus points we secured.
“A mixture of the young guys maturing, and us nailing and understanding the different systems that Pat [Lam] has brought in — that has made the difference.”
Loughney continues: “There is a great team ethos, great camaraderie, and for me it is as good as it’s ever been since I have been here, and that goes on the pitch as well. Everyone has everybody’s back. It’s not a conscious thing, everyone just seems to get on, and it is something we are just lucky to have.”
He is also confident his fiancee has everything under control for their nuptials on June 4. “There’s a bit of that going on in the evening all right [wedding plans], it’s a bit of a switch-off after rugby at the moment, but it’s fair to say my fiancee is doing all the organising.”
One plan has been left to Loughney — making sure she gets to the church on time in his new retro VW. “It is something I wanted for a while, so this year I managed to figure out how to get it. I brought it from the UK. She shot down the idea of honeymooning in it, but it will be bringing her to the church.”
Here’s a little extra sport: Ahead of Euro 2016 BallTalk TV ask which Irish players in the Premier League had the best season:
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