Munster Rugby and the IRFU have confirmed that prop James Cronin and hooker Mike Sherry have signed contract extensions with the province. In addition, Greencore Academy player David Johnston will be promoted to the senior squad at the start of the 2016/17 season.
James Cronin has signed a three-year contract extension that will see the Ballincollig native remain with Munster until at least June 2019.
A product of the Munster clubs system, Cronin completed two years of the Academy programme before securing a senior contract in 2013 and has made 54 appearances for the province to date, scoring five tries.
After making his league debut as an Academy player against Leinster at Thomond Park in April 2013 a month later, he was awarded the Munster Rugby Academy Player of the Year.
During the 2013/14 season, the Corkman exploded onto the scene making 26 appearances, including a European debut against Edinburgh at Murrayfield in October 2013. Cronin featured in seven of Munster’s eight European Cup games during the campaign.
Deservedly, a call-up to Ireland followed and the loosehead prop joined the summer tour to Argentina in June 2014, winning his first of two Ireland caps. The 25-year-old was part of the Emerging Ireland squad that won the 2015 Tbilisi Cup in Georgia.
Meanwhile, Mike Sherry has signed a two-year contract extension that will see him remain with Munster until at least June 2018. The 27-year-old has made 82 appearances for the province so far, scoring eight tries.
As a first year Academy player, Sherry made his Munster debut against Connacht at Thomond Park in December 2009. The Limerick native went on to make his European debut away to Toulon in January 2011.
On the international front he made his Ireland debut against USA on the summer tour in June 2013 and has made two Ireland Wolfhounds appearances.
Sidelined for 21 months, the hooker underwent an extended period of rehabilitation and recovery due to an initial knee injury and recurring shoulder issues that ruled him out until the start of the 2015/16 season. On returning to his previous form, Sherry has made 11 appearances and scored three tries already this season.
Third year Academy player David Johnston will advance to the Munster senior squad next season after signing a development contract for the 2016/17 season and a full contract for 2017/18.
The Clonmel youngster plays centre and full-back and this year has alternated his appearances between Munster and Munster ‘A’.
The 21-year-old made his GUINNESS PRO12 debut against Benetton Treviso at Irish Independent Park in September and has made five appearances for the province. His younger brother Bill, who plays out-half, joined the Munster Academy programme earlier this season.
Commenting on the latest contract signings, Munster head coach Anthony Foley said: “We are delighted with the latest news, and as a group are hugely lifted with three of our homegrown players committing their futures to the province.
“James and Mike have shown what they are capable of time and time again and they both have a massive part to play in this squad’s progression.
“Both are products of our underage set up at club and schools level respectively and they represent the hard work that is being done at grassroots and academy level each week.
“Similarly, David, who is now breaking through, has followed the same pathway and we look forward to seeing his growth over the coming years.”