Connacht draft four Ireland U20 players into academy

Cillian Gallagher, Stephen Kerins and Conor Kenny all helped guide Ireland to a first ever final at the World Rugby U20 Championship last month

Stephen Kerins

Image: ©INPHO/Gary Carr

Connacht rugby welcome four Ireland U20 players who featured in this year's World Championship into their academy for the new season.

Academy manager Nigel Carolan, who was also head coach of the Ireland U20 squad that reached the World Championship final last month, has included Sligo RFC duo Cillian Gallagher and Stephen Kerins as well as Buccaneers man Conor Kenny in the Year 1 academy.

Portumna-born Peter Claffey also makes the cut and switches from Galwegians RFC. Claffey was capped for the Ireland U20's during the 2016 U20 6 Nations but missed out on the World Rugby Championship with injury.

"It's fantastic to have such a talented group of players coming into the Academy for the coming season," Carolan 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."

20-year-old wing Adam Leavy is the fifth and final recruit who joins the Connacht Academy from Dublin.

Full list of Connacht Academy 2016/17

YEAR 3
Jamie Dever - Tighthead Prop
Jack Dinneen - Hooker
Ciaran Gaffney - Back Three
Marc Kelly - Back Row
Conor McKeon - Scrumhalf
Saba Meunargia - Tighthead Prop

YEAR 2
Cormac Brennan - Back Three
Conor Kyne - Loosehead Prop
Conor Lowndes - Scrum Half
Stephen McVeigh - Back Row
Conan O'Donnell - Tighthead Prop
Ed O'Keeffe - Back Three
Pat O'Toole - Hooker
Cian Romaine - Lock

YEAR 1
Peter Claffey - Lock
Cillian Gallagher - Lock
Conor Kenny - Prop
Stephen Kerins - Scrumhalf
Adam Leavy - Wing