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Dublin: 12°C Friday 23 April 2021

Good week, great week: Gilroy extends Ulster deal to 2016

Meanwhile, Connacht have tied down the services of scrum-half Kieran Marmion for the same period.

Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

CRAIG GILROY’S GREAT week just got a little bit better today as the winger signed a three-year contact extension with Ulster.

Just days on from the Down man’s hat-trick for the Ireland XV against Fiji, the 21-year-old has been able to commit his future to the RaboDirect Pro12 leaders until 2016.

Since scoring twice on his Ulster debut, Gilroy has rarely failed to impress when given an opportunity and he played a pivotal part in bringing Ulster to the Heineken Cup final last year.

His elusive running on either wing have earned him 52 provincial caps with his 16 tries helping him to be the top try-scorer at Ravenhill for each of the past two seasons.

That form has led many pundits to call for his inclusion in this weekend’s (potentially World-Cup-defining) Test against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.

In a statement released by the northern province this afternoon, director of rugby David Humphreys said that GIlroy: “is a product of the Ulster Academy and he fits with our ambition of creating a team of home-grown players capable of competing with the best in Europe.

“There is no doubt that he is an exceptional rugby player and his future both at Provincial and International level is extremely bright.”

While the man himself added, “I am delighted that I will be playing my rugby at Ravenhill well into 2016. I am proud to play for my Province – representing Ulster means a great deal to me.

“Things are going really well at the moment. We have had a good start to both the RaboDirect Pro12 and the Heineken Cup and it is great to be a part of. I am looking forward to helping Ulster be successful over the course of the rest of this season and the next three seasons.”

All of which gives us an excuse to show this again, perhaps his finest moment with the red hand on his chest.

YouTube credit:

Meanwhile, Connacht were also able to announce a contract extension for one fo their brightest young stars. Scrum-half Kieran Marmion, like Kilroy, has been rewarded with a three-year central IRFU contract.

Up to now Marmion, 20, has been operating as an academy player so the full professional deal will be a welcome boost to the 20-year-old who has made the number nine shirt his own under Eric Elwood this season.

Marmion says that his experiencing of playing in the Junior World Cup helped push him towards the next level of performance.

“It was a great experience to go over to South Africa and play against the best U20 players in the world. It gave me a lot of confidence to be chosen for the U20 side and then to start for Connacht this season was fantastic.

“I’m thrilled to have extended my contract with the province. I feel at home here and I want to continue contributing to the squad and the great work that is being done here every week.”

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Sean Farrell

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