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Keatley and Kelleher are moving on


Ian Keatley in action during Munster training this week at the University of Limerick

Ian Keatley in action during Munster training this week at the University of Limerick

Ian Keatley in action during Munster training this week at the University of Limerick

When Cian Kelleher made the move to Connacht in 2016, it was the first time Leinster lost a significant piece from their vaunted Academy.

Since then, the St Michael's College back-three operator has punched in 14 tries from 46 appearances without being able to move Tiernan O'Halloran from full-back.

In fact, the 24-year-old has settled in as a wing, still prone to making errors to go with his strength for beating defenders.

It is understood Leinster have no plans to comment on whether Kelleher will move back home.

However, it does look likely in light of the personal farewell statement made on his twitter account yesterday afternoon.

"It is with a heavy heart that this will be my last couple of months with Connacht rugby," Kelleher shared.

"I want to thank everyone for their support over the last two and a half seasons, the supporters, the staff and the players.

Special Place

"The welcome I received made me feel right at home from the very beginning and made me instantly fall in love with this special place.

"I've made best friends and memories which I will cherish forever," he added.

"Looking forward to finishing these last couple of months on a high with some silverware."

It is unlikely Kelleher would have released such a statement without knowing his next move.

His younger brother Ronan, a hooker, is in Year Two of the Academy.

Looking ahead, the Leinster roster is already taking shape for next season due to the glut of Ireland internationals certain to play at the World Cup.

Rob Kearney and Jordan Larmour are on course for Japan, the Louth man revealing recently how he will play on after 2019.

However, Kearney has given no indication as to where that will be.

Dave Kearney and Barry Daly have dropped down the ladder at Leinster because of injuries.

Adam Byrne has rebounded from limbo land in recent weeks to look the part again.

Joe Tomane has not lived up to his billing as replacement for Isa Nacewa.

James Lowe is an entirely different matter.

There is not an out-and-out wing to be found in the Academy or, at least, someone as seriously rated as Kelleher when he was in that position at Leinster.

For all that, the jury is still out on Kelleher.

The progress made out west has not led to any mention of Ireland interest from head coach Joe Schmidt.

Thirty-one-year-old Ian Keatley is a lot closer to the tail of his career than the start.

It looks like Munster's signing of Joey Carbery to compete with JJ Hanrahan, Tyler Bleyendaal and Keatley has convinced the latter his time would be better spent somewhere else.

There have been reports that Benetton Treviso have already signed the fly-half to contest for the number ten shirt with Italy internationals Tomasso Allan and Ian McKinley.

Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny looks set to miss the start of Wales' Six Nations campaign. The Scarlets full-back has not played since suffering concussion during Wales' victory over Australia on November 10.