Rain may have plagued most summer weeks but it has failed dampen enthusiasm ahead of September’s Connacht Under18 interpro campaign.

The combined youths and schools squads have trained throughout the warmer weeks under instruction from coaching development manager Eamonn Molloy, and assistants Ambrose Conboy and Cory Brown.

This winter’s squad pulls from eight Connacht clubs. In the north Ballina, Westport, Castlebar represent; Ballinasloe and Buccaneers chime in from the east; and Monivea, Corinthians and Galwegians supply from close to Galway city.ConYth18

That eight clubs (and several college First XVs) claim kindred connection to this squad reflects the calibre of competitive rugby available to these youngsters midweek and at weekends.

This winter’s interprovincial schedule kicks off in early September with the Schools XV contesting its fixtures. The six-game tournament is a winner-takes-all three weekend series.

The Youths XV (drawn from club competition) open their campaign later that month. The Youths, by comparison, contest three regular fixtures against the other three provinces to conclude pre-Christmas. Follow-up semi-final and final fixtures play out in the New Year.

Connacht’s elite underage set-up, directed by Nigel Carolan of the Academy, is the envy of other professional clubs. Connacht’s most recent successes in underage competitions and national selections speak volumes for depth and talent at grassroots.

Squad manager Gerry Conway hopes that grassroots strength continues through the Autumn interpro campaigns. Check Connacht’s domestic rugby site for regular updates to see how the next generation of Connacht’s rugby talent is progressing.

(contributed – Gerry Conway)

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