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Connacht confirm Kelleher departure amid reports of Leinster return

The winger is set to rejoin his native province after three years in Galway.

CIAN KELLEHER HAS informed his Connacht team-mates of his decision to leave the western province at the end of the season, ahead of a reported move back to Leinster.

Connacht have confirmed to The42 that they will lose the services of the 24-year-old winger at the end of the current campaign, in news first reported by The Irish Independent. 

Cian Kelleher Kelleher training with Connacht in Galway this morning. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kelleher, who came up through Leinster’s academy before opting for a switch west in search of regular game-time, has spent the last three seasons at the Galway Sportsground.

It is a major blow for Andy Friend and the province as the head coach looks to build his squad for a return to the Heineken Champions Cup, as well as courting success in the Guinness Pro14.

Former St Michael’s College flyer Kelleher progressed up through the academy system at his native province but after making seven senior appearances for Leinster, moved west on a two-year deal ahead of the 2016/17 season.

An injury-disrupted first season in Galway was a frustrating start to life with Connacht for Kelleher, but he has since established himself at the club, scoring 14 tries in 44 appearances.

Leinster have not yet confirmed the re-signing of the former Ireland U20 international, but his addition to Leo Cullen’s squad will add depth to their back three chart for the 2019/20 season. 

Kelleher would, however, face stiff competition to break into the European champions’ squad with the likes of Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Adam Byrne, Barry Daly, Fergus McFadden, Joe Tomane, Dave Kearney and Rory O’Loughlin all currently on the books at the eastern province. 

In a statement on his social media pages this evening, Kelleher said: “It’s with a heavy heart that this will be my last couple of months with Connacht Rugby. I want to thank everyone for their support over the last two and a half seasons, the supporters, the staff and the players. 

“The welcoming I received made me feel right at home from the very beginning and made me instantly fall in love with a special place. I’ve made best friends and memories which I will cherish forever. 

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

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Ryan Bailey

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