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Leinster name seven new additions to their prestigious Academy

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Leinster lock Ryan Baird

Leinster lock Ryan Baird

SPORTSFILE

Leinster lock Ryan Baird

Leinster will welcome seven members of last season's unbeaten Ireland U-20 squad into their Academy when training resumes next week.

The renowned production line has seen five players, including star second-row Ryan Baird, graduate to the senior squad for the upcoming campaign and Niall Comerford, Sean O'Brien of UCD, Clontarf pair Andrew Smith and Alex Soroka, Trinity duo Joe McCarthy and Max O'Reilly and Old Belvedere's Joe McKee will all be on Year One deals.

It remains to be seen if they will get a chance to finish their Grand Slam bid with the national side, with the campaign currently suspended after three wins.

Noel McNamara, who coaches that side but also manages the Leinster Academy, welcomed the new faces.

“As with any year we are delighted to see a group of young men move on to senior contracts and we wish those five players the very best of luck," he said of Baird, Harry Byrne, Jack Dunne, Tommy O'Brien and Dan Sheehan.

“Then it’s time to get excited for the next group coming in and seeing how they develop over the coming seasons.

“This morning’s announcement is a hugely special moment for the players and the culmination of a lot of hard work over many years.

"Of course, the reality is that the hard work is only beginning, but it is important to mark this achievement and for them and their clubs, schools, and families to take pride in what this next step means.

“It is also important to highlight the role played by the coaching team based in the Ken Wall Centre of Excellence (in Donnybrook) and their contribution in developing these players.

“We are very much looking forward to continuing our support to the incoming players in the next stage of their journey with Leinster.”

Leinster's Academy for 2020/21:

Year Three: David Hawkshaw, Michael Milne (8 caps), Aaron O’Sullivan, Patrick Patterson (3 caps), Michael Silvester

Year Two: Tom Clarkson, Brian Deeny, Cormac Foley, Martin Moloney, Charlie Ryan, Liam Turner

Year One: Niall Comerford, Joe McCarthy, John McKee, Sean O’Brien, Max O’Reilly, Andrew Smith, Alex Soroka

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