Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has paid tribute to flanker Johnny O’Connor who battled three fractures to his face against Leinster on New Year’s Day – but he admits his growing injury list means he must put his faith in youth.
Despite his injuries, O’Connor battled through to the final whistle in the narrow RaboDirect PRO12 15-13 defeat to Leinster but will now be out of action for approximately 12 weeks.
He joins prop Ronan Loughney, Brian Tuohy, Eoin Griffin as well as Rodney Ah You, Dave Gannon, Mark McCrea, Dave Nolan, Andrew Browne and James Loxton on the sidelines and Elwood admits that ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aironi, the cupboards are looking bare.
"We are under a bit of pressure – the last couple of derby matches have exerted their toll. Those injuries to key personnel are quite serious for us, in addition to our long terms injuries," he told the Galway Advertiser.
"It is one thing surviving the game, but Johnny didn't survive the game, he put himself through the mill for the 80 minutes and played like Johnny O'Connor always does.
“That is a testament to him and his commitment to the cause – brave man is an understatement.
“It does leave us a little bit thin, but we have the younger lads to call in if need be.”