O'Halloran extends contract at Connacht
Connacht v Ulster Live TG4 tonight, KO 7.35
Tiernan O'Halloran's two-year contract extension has provided a timely boost for Connacht ahead of their inter-provincial derby at home to Ulster in The Sportsground this evening.
John Muldoon will lead the line in what is a strong side, anchored by Bundee Aki in the midfield.
The impact of flanker Jarrad Butler has been considerable and the front row of Denis Coulson, Shane Delahunt and Finlay Bealham will have to stand up at the set-piece.
"The crowd have been massive for us so far this season and the place will be in Festive spirit," said coach Kieran Keane.
"That has a huge impact on players. That can create an eight or ten-point turn around. Just look how the players responded last week and the night we played Munster.
"We want to recreate that atmosphere and that performance again."
Darren Cave will become a double-centurion for Ulster on the night Peter Nelson will look to make his play to succeed Christian Leali'ifano as their out-half.
The 2016 and 2017 Ireland U20 out-half Johnny McPhillips is in line for his debut off the bench.
The inclusion of Academy lock Matthew Dalton with Robbie Diack looks grossly outgunned by Connacht's pair of Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux, although Iain Henderson is to be found as back-up on the flank. All in all, Connacht have the artillery to make this an uncomfortable and, ultimately, fruitless evening for Ulster.
Connacht: T O'Halloran; N Adeleokun, B Aki, T Farrell, M Healy, J Carty, K Marmion; D Coulson, S Delahunt, F Bealham, U Dillane, Q Roux, E Masterson, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt).
Ulster: J Stockdale; C Gilroy, L Ludik, D Cave, A Trimble; P Nelson, J Cooney; A Warwick, J Andrew, W Herbst, M Dalton, R Diack, I Henderson (capt), S Reidy, N Timoney.