Matthew Burke in action for Connacht during the URC match against Cardiff Blues. Burke, from Ballinrobe, is in the Connacht starting XV for the visit of Dragons to The Sportsground tomorrow. Photo: Mark Lewis / Sportsfile

Two Mayo men in Connacht starting team for visit of Dragons

Ballinrobe native Matthew Burke has been drafted into the Connacht starting team for tomorrow’s United Rugby Championship meeting with Dragons at The Sportsground (kick-off 5.15 p.m).

It means there will be two Mayo men in the front row as Burke lines up alongside Dave Heffernan from Ballina. Australian Finlay Bealham at tighthead completes the front three.

Like Burke, Paul Boyle and Ben O’Donnell have been drafted into the starting XV. It’s a first appearance of the season for O’Donnell, who forms an exciting back three with winger Mack Hansen and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran.

The remaining backs are unchanged for the third straight game, with Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty at 9 and 10 respectively and Tom Daly and Tom Farrell pairing together at centre.

Locks Oisin Dowling and Ultan Dillane also start together for the third week in a row, while the side is completed by flankers Cian Prendergast and captain Jarrad Butler, with Boyle wearing the number 8 shirt.

Ahead of tomorrow's game, Connacht head coach Andy Friend said: “Last week was very pleasing not just because of the result, but the performance gave everyone the confidence that we’re heading in the right direction.

“We know more than anyone that we now need to replicate that level consistently. Dragons are a tough team to play against and showed that against Leinster last week, so we’ll need to be at the top of our game.”