Newry-born Shea O’Brien has put pen to paper on a one-year Development contract which will see him join up with Ulster Rugby this summer.
The 22-year-old full-back, who claimed the player-of-the-match award when helping City of Armagh secure victory in the Bank of Ireland Ulster Senior Cup final in March 2020, is no stranger to awards.
He was also selected as the 2019/20 Ken Goodall Club Player of the Year at the Ulster Rugby Domestic Rugby Awards.
With an impressive skill-set gained through his involvement in the club game at City of Armagh RFC from Minis level through to competing in the Energia All-Ireland League, as well as being a talented Gaelic footballer, O’Brien will be joining the Ulster senior set-up this coming pre-season, alongside completing his medicine degree at Queen’s University Belfast.
His Development contract follows on from his starting role in Ulster’s Development XV interprovincial matches against Leinster and Munster last year, as well as his try-scoring performance against Connacht Eagles.
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland commented: “Shea exemplifies a player who has taken a less traditional route to being involved in the professional set-up at Ulster.
“He impressed in our Development side last September, and I am excited for what he will bring to our squad next season as a result of being nurtured through club rugby in the province.”
O’Brien admitted: “I am delighted to have signed a Development contract with Ulster Rugby. The squad and coaching staff have already made me feel very welcome.
“The group are ambitious and I’m very excited and privileged to be a part of it. I hope to use this opportunity to learn more and develop myself as a rugby player.
“I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone at City of Armagh Rugby Club for the continued support they have given me in my journey from the mini set-up, through the youth system, and into senior rugby.
“I have worked with some great coaches and players along the way, and I will be forever grateful for this.”
Meanwhile, ahead of Ulster’s United Rugby Championship game at home to Cardiff on Friday, John Cooney has resumed full team training following his recent calf injury. He is available for selection.
Tom O’Toole continues to rehab the hamstring strain he sustained during the recent win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.