5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
Adding to the extensive expansion both on and off the pitch, all four new players have joined Connacht on Academy contracts.
Darragh Leader, 19, made his first competitive start for the province last weekend against defending league champions, the Ospreys.
The same week that Leader was officially signed to the Academy, he was selected by Eric Elwood to line out as full-back against the Welsh region.
Prior to that, Leader had impressed at Dubarry Park where he came off the bench for the Connacht Eagles in their British & Irish Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons.
Darragh is a younger brother of Tadhg Leader, who is currently in his second year of the Academy. He attended St. Joseph's College, Galway and plays with Galwegians. The young Leader has represented Ireland at Under-19 level and is currently with the Ireland U20 squad.
Another recruit to the backs is the 20-year-old Steve Macauley, who has appeared with the Eagles this season in both British & Irish Cup fixtures to date.
Macauley was predominantly a full-back at underage level, but has played plenty of rugby on the wing too.
A standout player in the 2010 Leinster Schools Cup for Clongowes Wood College, Macauley opted to take up an Academy offer from Leicester Tigers at the start of the 2010/11 season before moving to Connacht this season. The Young Munster player has represented Ireland at Under-18 Schools level.
Scrum half Marcus Walsh played with the Connacht Under-20s last season before being contracted to the Connacht Academy.
The former Blackrock College pupil has been a regular for the Connacht Eagles this season and has also represented Ireland at Under-18 Schools level.
Up front, the 20-year-old Peter Reilly joins the Academy outfit as tighthead prop. The 6ft, 113kg front rower is a former pupil of Castleknock College.
Reilly was part of the Ireland Under-20 squad that recorded a highest ever fifth place finish at the IRB Junior World Championship last summer.
Connacht Rugby are delighted to be able to provide genuine rugby experience to emerging, Irish-qualified talent and these signings are the latest additions to that contingent.
Carolan is very pleased with the latest recruits, stating: "I'm delighted to be able to officially integrate the four lads. Their hard work over the last six months has really paid off and they are fantastic additions to the Academy set-up."