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Connacht sign four Ireland U20s to academy

Guinness PRO12 Editor

18 Jul 2016

Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht Rugby have signed four Ireland U20s to their academy.

New signings Cillian Gallagher, scrum-half Stephen Kerins and prop Conor Kenny all played their part in the first ever Ireland U20s side to reach the final of the World Rugby U20 Championship last month.

Academy Manager Nigel Carolan has also drafted in 6ft 5 lock Peter Claffey who was capped for the Ireland U20s during the 2016 U20 Six Nations.

Claffey missed out on the World Rugby Championship, where Ireland were beaten by England in the final, with injury.

Wing Adam Leavy also joins the academy having featured for the Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup last year.

Eight academy products featured in the first team last season as Connacht lifted the Guinness PRO12 trophy for the first time with a Play-Off Final win over Leinster.

And Carolan believes the new additions can go all the way and become key components of future Connacht and Ireland squads.

“It's fantastic to have such a talented group of players coming into the academy for the coming season,” he said.

“All five have been a part of our sub-academy programme so they know what to expect in a professional environment.  

"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.

“Our goal in the Academy is to develop more and more players to go on and play for Connacht and Ireland."

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