Connacht promote six exciting academy prospects into their senior squad

Niall Murray, Sean Masterson, Conor Dean, Colm Reilly, Peter Sullivan and Jordan Duggan have earned pro contracts.

CONNACHT HAVE CONFIRMED that six players will graduate from their academy into Andy Friend’s senior squad ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Second row Niall Murray, who has already featured for the senior team, is among the promising youngsters, while prolific wing Peter Sullivan will be hoping for plenty of opportunities out wide next season.

niall-murray-14122019 Second row Niall Murray already has senior experience. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Back row Sean Masterson and out-half Conor Dean have already been capped at senior level.

Former Ireland U20 international loosehead prop Jordan Duggan and scrum-half Colm Reilly are the other two players stepping up from Connacht’s academy into the Friend’s squad ahead of next season.

Lock Murray has already made two senior starts for Connacht, having helped the Ireland U20s to their Grand Slam in 2019, a campaign in which scrum-half Reilly also featured – scoring a try in the win over Wales that secured the Slam.

Dean, Masterson and Duggan previously played with Leinster age-grade teams before signing for the Connacht academy, with their moves west clearly paying off as they now advance onto professional contracts

Masterson joins his older brother, Eoghan, in the western province’s squad having already featured in the Pro14.

Sullivan, another former Leinster underage player, earned his shot with Connacht thanks to prolific performances with Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League, then impressing with the Connacht Eagles last season.

peter-sullivan Wing Peter Sullivan impressed in the AIL with Lansdowne. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“We are delighted to confirm today’s news as we build for the future,” said Friend. “I am a firm believer that a club’s lifeline is its academy structure, and this exciting group of young players proves that the Connacht academy is extremely healthy, and will continue to have a positive impact on our squad going forward.
“I would like to say congratulations to the six men named, as well as a special thank you to all the people who have helped them get to their point of their careers – particularly the academy department led by Eric Elwood, their respective clubs and schools, and most importantly their family and friends.”

Elwood, who is Connacht’s academy manager, shared his pleasure at the six new senior deals.

“I would like to congratulate the six players on their first professional contracts and joining up with the pro squad for next season,” said Friend.

“It has been a pleasure to watch the players develop and grow over the years and we wish them well on the next step of their journey in their rugby careers.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see two more local lads come through the grassroots programme, which is a testament to the great work being done at all levels at Connacht Rugby.”

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