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Ireland U20 internationals Ward and Booth among Connacht's academy intake

The western province have brought eight new players on board.

CONNACHT HAVE BROUGHT eight new players into their academy ahead of the 2020/21 season, including Ireland U20 internationals Charlie Ward and Ciaran Booth.

Donnacha Byrne, Hubert Costello, Eoin De Buitléar, Cathal Forde and Darragh Murray, all of whom featured in the Connacht U18 team that won the IRFU club inter-provincial championship in 2018, have also come on board.

Connacht say that further additions to their academy “may be confirmed in the coming months.”

charlie-ward Ireland U20 international Charlie Ward. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tullow RFC product Ward made his U20s debut at the World Championship in Argentina last summer and featured again this year in the curtailed U20 Six Nations.

Having come through the Leinster age-grade system and advanced into senior club rugby with Clontarf in the AIL, 20-year-old loosehead prop Ward – who has also played at tighthead – will now move west to join Connacht’s academy.

20-year-old back row Booth came through the IRFU’s IQ Rugby programme in the UK and has played for Ireland at U18 and U20 levels.

He suffered a horror knee injury at last year’s U20 World Championship when he was on the receiving end of an illegal side entry clearout against Italy.

Booth, who has been in the Sale Sharks system and also played for Doncaster in the Championship while dual-registered, now makes the move to Connacht having happily fought his way back towards full fitness after that horrific injury.

ciaran-booth Back row Ciaran Booth joins from the UK. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Among the other new additions to Connacht’s academy is hooker Eoin de Buitléar, whose older brother, Colm, will remain in Year 3 of the programme next season after his 2019/20 campaign was ruined by an Achilles tendon rupture.

Second row Darragh Murray also follows in his brother Niall’s footsteps by coming onboard with Connacht. Niall has advanced onto a senior contract ahead of the 2020/21 season and Darragh will hope to do the same in the coming years.

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Ireland U20 fullback Oran McNulty, another IQ Rugby product, is among the players promoted into Year 3 of Connacht’s academy, along with former Ireland U20 hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin and back row Joshua Dunne.

Joining Niall Murray in advancing from the academy into the senior squad for next season are scrum-half Colm Reilly, out-half Conor Dean, loosehead prop Jordan Duggan, back row Sean Masterson, and wing Peter Sullivan.

Hugh Lane, Luke Carty, Conor Hayes, Mikey Wilson’s time with Connacht has concluded.

Connacht academy for 2020/21 season:

Year 1:

Donnacha Byrne (back row)
Ciaran Booth (back row)
Hubert Costello (back row)
Eoin de Buitléar (hooker)
Cathal Forde (out-half)
Darragh Murray (second row)
Cian Prendergast (lock/back row)
Charlie Ward (loosehead prop)

Year 2:

Declan Adamson (hooker)
Shane Jennings (centre)
Oisin McCormack (back row)

Year 3:

Colm de Buitléar (back three)
Joshua Dunne (back row)
Oran McNulty (back three)
Seán O’Brien (centre)
Dylan Tierney-Martin (hooker).

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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