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Ex-Ireland U20s second row earns Ulster contract after impressing in AIL

Alex Thompson had a standout season with Terenure.

THE MERIT OF the Ulster Bank League as not only a breeding ground for young players, but as a springboard to relaunch careers is again evident in the news Alex Thompson has earned a professional contract with Ulster for next season.

The second row, who was part of the Ireland U20s squad in 2015 alongside the likes of Joey Carbery, Andrew Porter, Garry Ringrose and Jacob Stockdale, had a standout season with Terenure in the AIL last year.

Adam McBurney and Alex Thompson celebrate Thompson (right) with Adam McBurney during the 2015 U20 Six Nations. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Thompson came through the Ulster academy but despite impressing for Ireland on the U20 World Championship stage, wasn’t awarded a contract with his native province and last season signed to play for Terenure.

Mixing rugby with a full-time job in Sherry Fitzgerald, Thompson produced a string of impressive performances as he helped Terenure to the AIL semi-finals, where they were beaten by Cork Constitution.

Thompson was rewarded with selection for the Ireland club XV along with four of his Terenure team-mates, and from there he received the call from Ulster to return to Kingspan Stadium ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

“I am incredibly proud to have worn the purple, black and white of Terenure and cannot thank the players, staff and everyone I have met in the club enough for a truly unforgettable year,” he said.

“It was just over a year ago when my roommate at the time Craig Trenier gave my number to Mark Hamilton. Hamo picked up the phone to invite me down to the club for the end of year AGM and from the moment I arrived in Lakelands, I could not have felt more welcome.

“Each and every person I met, from seasoned current players to oldest Alickadoos, were so inviting that by the end of the night I felt like part of the furniture. My mind was made up by the morning and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Gerry Hurley is tackled by Alex Thompson Thompson in action for Terenure last season. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“The club gave me the platform to go out and test myself against the best club sides and club players in Ireland which lead to selection for the Ireland clubs XV. It was not long after these matches when the phone rang and negotiations with Ulster started.”

Terenure said it was ‘with a sense of pride and a little sadness’ that they announce Thompson’s departure from Lakelands, with the young lock joining the likes of Jordi Murphy and Marty Moore among the new arrivals at Ulster.

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Ryan Bailey

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