Connacht back rower John Muldoon believes the revamped Sportsground is rapidly becoming a fortress, claiming it has already played a key role in his side’s fine start to the RaboDirect PRO12 season.
Muldoon’s side have won three of their opening four fixtures – including home wins over the Scarlets and the recent 17-13 triumph over the Dragons – and currently lie third in the table.
And the future looks bright for Connacht who will compete in the Heineken Cup this season at their new-look Galway home, which now has an official capacity of 7,500.
Connacht did not have things all their own way against the Dragons however and had to battle back from 13-3 down at half-time – and Muldoon admits the partisan home crowd was key.
“We didn’t have the greatest start in the world last weekend and when we came out in the second half we knew we had to play better as a team,” said Muldoon, who has three Ireland caps to his name.
“The atmosphere in the Sportsground has definitely changed since the new stand went up.
“Our supporters are just as passionate as last season but with the covering of the terrace the noise is much louder and I’m sure the opposition found it very intimidating.
“We feed off the cheers and shouts, it lets us know on the pitch that we’re doing something right.
“Knowing your giving people something to cheer about helps you get up after a bit hit and throw yourself right back into it and every big cheer means we’ve done something right, and that gets inside the opposition’s head and plants a bit of doubt.
“I’m certain the crowd helped us win last weekend, it sounds a bit cliché but they really were the 16th man and to have that number of people here at the Sportsground to cheer us on is fantastic.”
And Muldoon admits Connacht are already counting the days until they run out at the Sportsground again – but they’ll have to wait until Cardiff Blues come to town on October 29.
“The lads were saying after that they can’t wait until the next match,” he added.
“I know it’s a couple of weeks away yet but we’re already looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd again.”