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Ex-Limerick minor hurler Fitzgerald promoted to senior Connacht contract

Matthew Burke and Conor Kenny will also step up from the academy next season.

FORMER LIMERICK MINOR hurler Conor Fitzgerald will advance onto a senior professional contract with Connacht next season.

The 21-year-old out-half joined Connacht’s academy at the start of the current season after being released from Munster’s academy last year.

Conor Fitzgerald Fitzgerald has taken his chances since making the move to Connacht. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Former Ireland U20s international Fitzgerald has impressed since the move to Connacht, earning his senior debut under head coach Andy Friend in a Challenge Cup win over Bordeaux in October.

The Shannon RFC man has made a total of six appearances in all competitions but is currently sidelined with a back injury.

However, he can look forward to moving onto a senior contract for the 2019/20 and will be joined in doing so by fellow academy men Matthew Burke and Conor Kenny.

22-year-old loosehead Burke got his senior debut away to Sale Sharks in the Challenge Cup in October. The Ballinrobe native, who played for the Ireland U20s in 2017, has gone on to make a further seven appearances this season.

Tighthead prop Kenny has yet to make his senior debut but has impressed for the Connacht Eagles and Buccaneers in the AIL. The former Garbally College student featured for the Ireland U20s in 2016.

The promotion of Fitzgerald, Burke and Kenny into the Connacht senior squad from the province’s academy follows the news earlier this season that impressive back row Paul Boyle had signed a senior contract.

Matthew Burke Matthew Burke has featured for the senior side this season. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I have been very impressed with the talent I have seen coming through the club and academy structures in the province,” said Connacht boss Friend.

“Earlier in the season, Paul Boyle signed his first professional contract and we are delighted to announce that Conor Fitzgerald, Matthew Burke and Conor Kenny will be added to our professional squad for next season.

“We have used academy players throughout the season and my message to the next crop of players is that there will be opportunities for them to show what they can do.

“Our announcement today is great news for the players involved but the door is still open for others to make that step up.

“The recent Grand Slam success for the Ireland U20s, and the involvement of Connacht representatives Dylan Tierney-Martin, Niall Murray, Colm Reilly, and Ryan Lomas, is a further example of the further depth in our academy ranks.”

- This article was updated at 6.02pm to indicate that Matthew Burke is a ‘Ballinrobe native’ rather than a ‘Ballinasloe native,’ as was erroneously indicated. 

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Murray Kinsella

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