Sligo U-20 duo join Connacht Academy
Published 19/07/2016 | 02:30
Connacht have boosted their Academy with the addition of five new players, four of whom played a key role for the Ireland U-20s last season.
Sligo RFC duo Cillian Gallagher (second-row) and Stephen Kerins (scrum-half) and tighthead prop Conor Kenny all featured in Ireland's run to the final of U-20 World Cup last month, and while Peter Claffey missed the tournament with concussion, the lock impressed in the Six Nations.
Having spent last season in the sub-Academy, former St Michael's College winger Adam Leavy completes the list of new faces.
Leavy's older brother Dan, 22, played 10 times for Leinster in the Pro12 last season.
Connacht Academy manager Nigel Carolan, who is also head coach of the Ireland U-20s, has done an impressive job with the youngsters in both set-ups and he expects the latest crop to follow the path of the likes of Ultan Dillane and Finlay Bealham.
"With eight of our Academy players capped in the Pro12 and Challenge Cup last season and six graduating to the senior squad this year, the players can see how close they are to making it to the next stage once they put the hard work in," Carolan said.
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"Our goal is to develop more and more players to go on and play for Connacht and Ireland."
Those players will be eager to impress in next season's British and Irish Cup campaign where Connacht Eagles have been drawn in Pool 3 alongside Cornish Pirates, London Irish and Ospreys Premiership Select.
Munster 'A' will face champions London Welsh, Doncaster Knights and Rotherham Titans with Leinster 'A' taking on Scarlets Premiership Select, Richmond and a Nottingham side who are coached by former Munster assistant Ian Costello.
Ulster 'A' have been drawn in Pool 1 with Jersey Reds, London Scottish and Cardiff Blues Premiership Select.
The opening fixtures will take place on the weekend of October 14.