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Scrum-half Chris Keane has had his Connacht contract renewed after a stand-out season. Meanwhile, the westerners' John O'Sullivan looks set for a switch back to his native Munster.

Connacht continued their off-the-field manoeuvres today by announcing that the 27-year-old Keane has re-signed to the province.

Also penning deals were four of the province's academy graduates, in the first full year of the venture's existence. Ireland Under-21 caps Michael Diffley (prop), Joseph Merrigan (hooker) and Dan Riordan (full-back/winger), and another prop Ronan Loughrey of the Irish Youths side, have all been rewarded with development contracts for the Connacht senior squad.

Loughney, Merrigan and Riordan are products of the Corinthians club.

Connacht CEO Gerry Kelly said: "It is a big boost given that the academy is only in its first season. It is ironic too that at a time when front row players are supposed to be scarce, that three of the four contracts have gone to players in these positions."

Tralee-born number 8 O'Sullivan, meanwhile, is a transfer target for both Munster and French side Narbonne, but the 24-year-old has expressed his wish to remain playing in Ireland.

"I am very grateful for the opportunities I got in Connacht," he told Media West's John Fallon. "But I need to develop my own game more. I want to stay in Irish rugby and hopefully matters can be tied up with Munster.

"Playing with them will be a big challenge for me as they have an impressive squad, but at this stage I think that is the sort of challenge I need."

While O'Sullivan is almost certain to be playing his rugby elsewhere come September, both South African-born lock Pieter Myburgh and Clontarf scrum-half Mike Walls are definite non-starters for Connacht.

The duo never forced themselves into the first team reckoning this past season and have not been offered new contracts.

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20 June 2018
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