Nigel Carolan has added Limerick-born back Ed O’Keeffe to the Connacht Academy ahead of the start of the 2015/16 season.
The 20-year-old Ed O’Keeffe, who was part of the Young Munster team that reached the Ulster Bank League Division 1A semi-finals last season, has been with the Connacht Sub Academy during pre-season and impressed coaches to earn the promotion.
Having played for Munster at Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 level, O’Keeffe was also capped for the Ireland Club international team against Scotland last January. He made his first appearance in a Connacht jersey at Thomond Park last weekend, lining out for the Connacht side that finished third at the Limerick World Club Sevens tournament. He played in five out of the westerners’ six games over the two-day event.
Commenting on the move to Connacht, O’Keeffe said: “I’m delighted to get this opportunity and would like to thank Mossy (Lawler), who I have worked with in Limerick, and also Nigel (Carolan) for offering me a trial earlier in the summer. The training has been tough but this is what I want to do – training three times a day in a professional environment.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of the lads, and it’s good to catch up with the likes of Rory Parata and Jack Dinneen who I would have played against at school.
“The Sevens tournament last weekend was an amazing experience. It was my first run-out with Connacht and to share the field with some of the senior players was brilliant. Pat (Lam) gave us a lot of time in meetings and between games and it’s a huge motivation to see how close you can be in the Academy to a call-up to the senior side once you put the work in.”
Academy Manager Nigel Carolan added: “Ed has earned this Academy contract after coming in for a trial and showing he has the potential to make it as a pro. Mossy earmarked him as someone who would fit well into our system and we’re very pleased to have him join us officially.”
The addition of O’Keeffe brings the number of players in the Connacht Academy to 21.
CONNACHT ACADEMY – 2015/16 SEASON:
YEAR 3 –
James Connolly – Back Rower
Jamie Dever – Tighthead Prop
Saba Meunargia – Tighthead Prop
Rory Moloney – Back Rower
Sean O’Brien – Back Rower/Lock
Rory Parata – Centre
Jacob Walshe – Loosehead Prop
YEAR 2 –
Shane Delahunt – Hooker
Jack Dinneen – Hooker
Ciaran Gaffney – Back-Three
Marc Kelly – Back Rower
Conor McKeon – Out-Half
Peter Robb – Centre
YEAR 1 –
Cormac Brennan – Back-Three
Conor Kyne – Loosehead Prop
Conor Lowndes – Scrum Half
Stephen McVeigh – Back Rower
Conan O’Donnell – Tighthead Prop
Ed O’Keeffe – Back-Three
Pat O’Toole – Hooker
Cian Romaine – Lock