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Connacht Rugby have announced six professional contracts at the province. The six contracts all come from players making the step up for the Academy. Niall Murray, Jordan Duggan, Colm Reilly, Sean Masterson, Conor Dean and Peter Sullivan are the six players who will be in the squad for next season.
Niall Murray as you all may know is a player familiar to SportsNewsIreland. Murray has come through the grassroots at Connacht. He played with Buccaneers. Moreover, he made his debut in December at lock, when coming on as a substitute in the Heineken CUp against Gloucester. He has played at U20 international level for Ireland at the World Cup in 2019 and in the Six Nations.
Prop Jordan Duggan has also played at U19 and U20 international level for Ireland. He played at the U20 World Cup with his team mates Paul Boyle, Conor Dean, Oisin Dowling and Sean Masterson. Another player who has signed a contract is Colm Reilly. Colm has represented both Ballinasloe and won a Connacht Schools Cup with the famed Garbally College. He scored the winning Grand Slam try for the U20’s in 2019 against Wales to clinch the Six Nations title.
Sean Masterson, is the younger brother of current Connacht player Eoghan. He has experience of playing with the side already. He made his debut in the back row against Italian side Treviso, incidentally replacing his brother Eoghan. Conor Dean plays at out-half has also been capped by the province. He played in the final game of the 2018/19 season which was against Munster. He has also played for the Connacht Eagles side in the Celtic Cup.
Peter Sullivan is the least experienced of all the players to sign a contract, however he is a quality player . He joined the Connacht academy last season and has obviously impressed Andy Friend to warrant a professional contract. In addition, he played a big part in the Connacht Eagles side in the 2019/20 season. Speaking to the Connacht Rugby website, current head coach Andy Friend said, “We are delighted to confirm today’s news as we build for the future. I am a firm believer that a club’s lifeline is its Academy structure, and this exciting group of young players proves that the Connacht Academy is extremely healthy, and will continue to have a positive impact on our squad going forward”.
Eric Elwood, former Connacht player and current academy manager said, “I would like to congratulate the six players on their first professional contracts and joining up with the pro squad for next season. It has been a pleasure to watch the players develop and grow over the years and we wish them well on the next step of their journey in their rugby careers”.