The 21-year-old, who can also play on the wing and outside centre, has spent two seasons in the Leinster Academy and has seven PRO12 appearances under his belt scoring an impressive 50-metre try against Zebre in February of this year.
Having represented Ireland at Under-18, U19 and U20’s level, the former St Michaels student travelled as part of last summer’s Emerging Ireland squad to Georgia, not long after he came on as a replacement for the Ireland XV side that played the Barbarians at Thomond Park.
Commenting on the new signing, CEO Willie Ruane said:
“We are delighted to have Cian joining the Connacht squad next season. Passing up on an offer of a development contract with Leinster was obviously a difficult decision for Cian but it reflects an ambition and hunger for opportunity that not only Connacht Rugby but everyone involved in Irish Rugby is looking for.
He is a very exciting, young Irish player and we believe he will add a lot to our squad. We’re looking forward to welcoming him to the Sportsground in pre-season.”
Head Coach Pat Lam commented:
“It’s great to have someone with Cian’s versatility joining our squad for next season. As a fullback who can also play on the wing and outside centre, his arrival will bring more competition and depth in the backs as we prepare for Champions Cup rugby.
“I was really impressed when I first saw Cian play for Lansdowne and Ireland Under-20’s a couple of seasons ago. He showed real x-factor qualities with some of the tries he scored as well those he setup for his team mates. With the way we train and play the game I have no doubt he will be able to showcase his ability on the PRO12 and Champions Cup stage to chase his big goal of representing Ireland.”
Cian Kelleher added:
“Having watched the brand of rugby Connacht have been playing, I was really excited by the opportunity Pat presented to me. I cannot wait to get started down in Galway this summer where I’ll have to compete with a very talented and competitive back line for a starting spot.
“I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from Leinster Rugby, Lansdowne RFC and St. Michaels College who have always supported me. I'm extremely grateful to everyone for their time and input along the way.”