The Connacht Academy has produced another crop of professional players with the promotion of lock Michael Kearney and prop Denis Buckley to the senior squad. This has paved the way for new recruits to be added to Nigel Carolan’s Connacht Academy panel.
Finlay Bealham, Jamie Dever, Jonathan Gardiner, Ultan Dilane and Robbie Henshaw have all joined year one of the Connacht Academy which has produced a string of talent in recent years.
Loosehead prop Finlay Bealham was part of the province’s sub-academy last year. He played a number of ‘A’ matches for the Connacht last season and made the bench for the Connacht v Munster match.
Hailing from Canberra, Australia with an Irish father, he picked up a series of caps with the Ireland Under-20s during the 2010/11 campaign.
Jamie Dever is a tighthead prop from Westport, County Mayo. Educated in Rice College, he has represented Ireland at Under-18 and Under-19 level.
Lock-cum-back rower Gardiner is from Carmarthen in Wales where he was contracted to the Llanelli Scarlets Academy before moving the Leciester Tigers Academy.
With Wexford and Cork parents and standing at 6ft 5in and weighing 110kg, Jonathan is a powerful, athletic forward with a very bright future ahead of him.
Tralee RFC’s Ultan Dilane has played for the Ireland U-18s and U-19s. At 6ft 6in, the towering second row has already made a big impact at training.
Versatile back Robbie Henshaw has been a star player for Buccaneers RFC. Schooled in Marist College, Athlone he has represented Ireland at U-18 and U-19 level.
The Connacht Academy has flourished under the direction of Nigel Carolan, producing stars such as Eoin Griffin, Ronan Loughney and Tiernan O’Halloran in recent years and this year’s crop of players look set to continue that trend.
Speaking about this year’s Academy line-up, Carolan said: “I’m very excited about the season ahead. The British & Irish Cup will provide some great challenges for a lot of the Academy lads who will be playing with the Connacht Eagles.
“We have some exceptional talent coming through the ranks and it’s up to us to help nurture and develop those players so they can make the most of the challenges that await them.”
CONNACHT ACADEMY 2012/13 SQUAD LIST:
Year 1 –
Finlay Bealham, Loosehead prop, 6ft 1in, 111kg, St. Edmund’s College, Ireland U-20s
Jamie Dever, Tighthead prop, 6ft, 112kg, Rice College, Westport, Ireland U-18s/U-19s
Jonathan Gardiner, Back rower, 6ft 5in, 110kg, Llandovery College
Ultan Dilane, Lock, 6ft 6in, 100kg, CBS The Green, Tralee, Ireland U-18s/U-19s
Robbie Henshaw, Centre, 6ft 1in, 89kg; Marist College, Athlone, Ireland U-18 Schools/U-19s
Year 2 –
Kevin O’Byrne, Hooker, 5ft 11in, 100kg; Presentation College, Cork, Ireland U-18s
David Heffernan, Back rower, 6ft 1in, 105kg; Blackrock College, Dublin, Ireland U-20s
Kieran Marmion, Scrum half, 5ft 10in, 82kg; Kirkham Grammar, Ireland U-18s/U-19s/U-20s
Jack Carty, Out-half, 6ft, 88kg; Marist College, Athlone, Ireland U-18s/U-19s/U-20s
Tadhg Leader, Centre, 6ft 1in, 91kg; St. Joseph’s College, Galway/Cistercian College Roscrea
Conor Finn, Winger, 5ft 11in, 89 kg; Cistercian College Roscrea, Ireland U-19s/U-20s
Shane Layden, Full-back, 5ft 11in, 89 kg; Cistercian College Roscrea, Ireland U-19s/U-20s
Year 3 –
Daniel Qualter, Lock, 6ft 6in, 112kg; Marist College, Athlone/Sligo Grammar School, Ireland U-18s/U-19s/U-20s
Aaron Conneely, Back rower, 6ft 2in, 97kg; Coláiste Iognáid, Galway, Ireland Under-18 Youths/Schools/U-19s/U-20s