Leinster Rugby Academy Welcomes Eight New Players for 2023/24 Season
Leinster Rugby has announced the arrival of eight new players to its Academy squad for the upcoming 2023/24 season. The new recruits include Andrew Osborne, Conor O’Tighearnaigh, Fintan Gunne, Gus McCarthy, Henry McErlean, Hugh Cooney, Liam Molony, and Patrick McCarthy. All eight players were part of the Grand Slam-winning Ireland U-20 team at the recent Six Nations tournament.
Andrew Osborne and Patrick McCarthy have older brothers, Jamie and Joe, respectively, in the Leinster Rugby senior squad. Liam Molony’s first cousin, Ross, is also a well-established player within the Leinster ranks. Meanwhile, Fintan Gunne, Conor O’Tighearnaigh, and Liam Molony have toured with some of their new teammates during the recent BKT United Rugby Championship in South Africa.
Leinster Rugby Academy Manager’s Message
Simon Broughton, Leinster Rugby Academy Manager, expressed his delight at the new signings. He said, “This is a terrific opportunity for the club to continue to help these young men grow into excellent members of our community, while at the same time supporting them to achieve their rugby and academic potential.” Broughton also acknowledged the contribution of the players’ clubs, schools, and pathway coaches to their development, as well as their families for their continued support.
Andrew Osborne, born on August 16, 2003, is studying Economics, Maths, and Statistics at UCD and plays in the back three. He scored a try in his debut game for the Ireland U-20 team during the Grand Slam-winning campaign in 2022. Andrew started playing rugby with the Naas RFC minis, attended Naas CBS, and represented the North Midlands Area in the Bank of Ireland Shane Horgan Cup.
The new signings for the Leinster Rugby Academy bring a wealth of talent and potential to the club. With players like Andrew Osborne, who have already demonstrated their skills at the international level, the future looks bright for Leinster Rugby. The club’s commitment to nurturing talent and supporting the players’ academic development is a testament to its long-term vision and dedication to producing top-class rugby players.
Andrew Osborne (Naas RFC)
DOB – 16 August 2003
Andrew is currently studying Economics, Maths and Statistics in UCD and plays in the back three.
He was a member of the Ireland U-20 2022 Grand Slam winning team, scoring a try in the win over Scotland in Scotstoun Stadium, which was also his debut at that level.
Like older brother Jamie, Andrew started his rugby with the Naas RFC minis, attended Naas CBS and lined out for the North Midlands Area in the Bank of Ireland Shane Horgan Cup.
Conor O’Tighearnaigh (UCD RFC)
DOB – 2 April 2003
Second row Conor made his Leinster Rugby senior debut in the BKT United Rugby Championship game against the Vodacom Bulls in Loftus Versfeld Stadium in April 2023. It capped a remarkable few weeks for the young man, having also starred for Richie Murphy’s Ireland U-20s on their way to the Grand Slam.
It was his second U-20s Grand Slam having also played in 2022.
Conor is studying Medicine in UCD and started his rugby journey with Bective Rangers FC minis before moving to Old Belvedere RFC and then attending St. Michael’s College where he went to school.
Fintan Gunne (Terenure RFC)
DOB – 28 July 2003
Fintan was a mainstay of Richie Murphy’s Ireland U-20s with the all-action number nine a constant thorn in the sides of those he met. He scored a try against England in the Grand Slam decider in Cork.
In April 2023, he was invited on the two-game tour of South Africa by Leo Cullen where he picked up valuable experience and will now enter the Leinster Rugby Academy in time for the 2023/24 season.
Fintan is studying Commerce in UCD and started his rugby in Old Belvedere RFC, before attending St. Michael’s College. He now lines out for Terenure RFC in the Energia All-Ireland League.
Gus McCarthy (UCD RFC)
DOB – 23 July 2003
Gus was the captain of the Grand Slam winning Ireland U-20s side as the UCD RFC hooker led the team to a remarkable second title in as many years.
He started out his rugby journey with Old Belvedere RFC, before playing in Blackrock College, where he captained the Senior Cup team to the 2022 Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Senior title after a win over Gonzaga College in the RDS Arena.
He is now studying Commerce in UCD, where he is also lining out in the Energia All-Ireland League.
McCarthy played in Old Belvedere growing up, and interestingly, in that team, there were four of the Academy players announced today, namely, McCarthy, Gunne, Patrick McCarthy and O’Tighearnaigh.
Henry McErlean (Terenure RFC)
DOB – 13 February 2003
Henry plays in the back three and was the starting full back in the Grand Slam decider against England in the U-20s Six Nations.
He grew up in Cushendall, in Antrim, and played rugby with Ballymena RFC and hurling with Ruairí Óg GAA Club before his family moved to Dublin, where he played Gaelic Football with Clanna Gael and rugby in St. Michael’s College. He won a Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Junior Cup title in 2019 after beating Blackrock College in the final in Energia Park.
He is currently studying Economics in UCD, and plays his club rugby with Terenure RFC in the Energia All-Ireland League.
Hugh Cooney (Clontarf FC)
DOB – 26 June 2003
Hugh is a centre and is currently studying Sports and Exercise Management in UCD.
He won a Senior Cup medal with Blackrock College in 2022, scoring a try in the final against Gonzaga College. Later that same year he would line out with Leinster ‘A’ in a number of interprovincial games before making his Ireland U-20s debut in the 2023 Six Nations. He played in every game of the campaign.
Growing up he was also a talented soccer player with St. James AFC and Beechwood FC and he represented South Dublin in the renowned Kennedy Cup.
Liam Molony (Dublin University FC)
DOB – 9 November 2003
Like Conor O’Tighearnaigh, Liam also made his Leinster Rugby senior debut while still a member of the Sub-Academy. The back row was invited on to the two-game tour of South Africa by Leo Cullen and came on in the second half against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.
Having attended Blackrock College – where he won a Senior Cup title in 2022 – Liam is now in Technological University, Dublin studying Business and Management, and wears the Dublin University FC colours in the Energia All-Ireland League.
He is a first cousin of Leinster lock Ross Molony, and his grandfather, Jack was capped by Ireland against Scotland in Lansdowne Road in 1950.
Patrick McCarthy (Dublin University FC)
DOB – 28 May 2003
The final member of the Year One intake, is prop Patrick McCarthy, the younger brother of Leinster and Ireland lock, Joe.
As mentioned earlier, Patrick started out his rugby in Old Belvedere RFC minis with a number of the other Academy players before moving to Blackrock College school where he won a Senior Cup title in 2022.
He played in all five of the games for Ireland on their way to the Grand Slam, wearing the number three or 18 jersey, in all of the games and scored a memorable try in the win over France in Musgrave Park.
He is now studying Global Business in Trinity College and playing for Dublin University FC in the Energia AIl-Ireland League.