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Boyle And Conroy Feature In Connacht Academy Panel

Boyle And Conroy Feature In Connacht Academy Panel

Paul Boyle, who captained the Ireland Under-20s at June’s World Rugby U-20 Championship, and Ireland Sevens speedster Jordan Conroy are two of the notable inclusions in the Connacht Rugby Academy panel (sponsored by NUI Galway) for the 2017/18 season.

In all, the province’s Academy line-up features nine Year 1 players, three of whom gained Ireland Under-20 honours last season. Gorey native Paul Boyle, who impressed both as a player and captain during the U-20 Championship in Georgia, links up with Connacht and Buccaneers via the Leinster sub-Academy and following a run of Ulster Bank League Division 1A games with Lansdowne.

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Luke Carty and Sean Masterson, whose older brothers Jack Carty and Eoghan Masterson are regulars in the Connacht senior team, have been promoted from Connacht’s sub-Academy. Luke (pictured below) was an injury replacement for the Ireland U-20s this summer – although he got no pitch time – while fellow 19-year-old Sean captained the Ireland Under-19s last season and has four U-20 caps to his name. That is one more than Corinthians prop Matthew Burke, who also makes the step up from the westerners’ sub-Academy.

Jordan Conroy scored 16 tries during the Ireland Men’s Sevens’ debut Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series, helping the team to a runners-up finish and qualification for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens and the World Sevens Series qualifying tournament.

The flying 23-year-old winger, who has played in the British & Irish Cup with Connacht Eagles, had a key role in Buccaneers’ promotion to the top flight of the Ulster Bank League and also won the Division 1B and Connacht Club Player of the Year awards last term.

Connacht’s new intake for the Academy, which is now headed up by stalwart player and coach Eric Elwood, is completed by scrum half Ryan Feehily, who was a key figure in Sligo’s drive for promotion in last season’s Ulster Bank League, An Ghaeltacht talent Colm de Buitléar, promising centre Kieran Joyce (pictured below), who played for Malone and Connacht Eagles last season and is a younger brother of former Ulster flanker Conor Joyce, and Queensland native Harley Fox who has joined the province from the Melbourne Rebels.

The 21-year-old Fox plays at blindside flanker and number 8, and as a rugby league convert, he progressed through the age-grade ranks. He was appointed Australia Schools captain in 2014 and was brought into the Melbourne Rebels extended squad in 2016 after playing for his country at the 2016 World Rugby U-20 Championship in Manchester.

Meanwhile, the six Connacht Academy Year 1 players from 2016/17, including Conroy’s Ireland Sevens colleague Adam Leavy (brother of Leinster and Ireland flanker Dan Leavy), are stepping up for a second season in the Sportsground set-up, while homegrown props Conor Kyne (Galwegians) and Conan O’Donnell, the 21-year-old Sligo youngster who made his Connacht senior debut at just 19, fill the two Year 3 berths.

CONNACHT ACADEMY PANEL – 2017/18 SEASON:

YEAR 3 –

Conor Kyne (Galwegians) – Prop
Conan O’Donnell (Buccaneers) – Prop

YEAR 2 –

Matthew Byrne (Terenure College) – Back-Three
Peter Claffey (Buccaneers) – Second Row
Cillian Gallagher (Corinthians) – Second Row
Conor Kenny (Buccaneers) – Prop
Stephen Kerins (Corinthians) – Scrum Half
Adam Leavy (Lansdowne) – Back-Three

YEAR 1 –

Paul Boyle (Buccaneers) – Back Rower
Matthew Burke (Corinthians) – Prop
Luke Carty (Buccaneers) – Out-Half
Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers) – Back-Three
Colm de Buitléar (An Ghaeltacht/Corinthians) – Back-Three
Ryan Feehily (Sligo) – Scrum Half
Sean Masterson (Corinthians) – Back Rower
Kieran Joyce (Corinthians) – Centre
Harley Fox (tbc) – Back Rower