The Connacht Rugby Academy Squad for 2021/22 can be confirmed.
Included are the six indigenous Connacht players who represented Ireland in the U20 Six Nations squad this summer, as well as new Year 1 recruits Will Reilly and Josh O’Connor.
Connacht Rugby Academy Manager Eric Elwood says:
“We are really pleased with the talent we have in the Academy squad this season. Six players gained huge experience on the international scene over the summer which is a testament to their development the past few years. This was Connacht’s highest ever representation at this level which speaks volumes of their quality.
The lack of club & schools rugby last season has proved a challenge for us all, but with our U18s and U19s competing in the Interpro Series, more players both in and out of our Academy will gain vital playing time and given an opportunity to impress.
There’s been plenty of changes behind the scenes with new staff and structures to help support our Pathway players, so we’re really excited by what can be achieved in the years ahead.”

Declan ADAMSON – Hooker
Ciaran BOOTH – Back Row
Donnacha BYRNE – Back Row
Eoin DE BUITLÉAR – Hooker
Cathal FORDE – Out-Half/Centre
Shane JENNINGS – Centre
Diarmuid KILGALLEN – Back Three
Oisin MCCORMACK – Back Row
Darragh MURRAY – Lock
Josh O’CONNOR– Back Three
Will REILLY – Scrum-Half
Charlie WARD – Prop

With the squad well into preparations for the new campaign, S&C coach Johnny O’Connor has been telling us about their pre-season programme and what he learned from his first season in the role.

You can check out our interview with him below.

With just four days to our Guinness PRO14 opener against Glasgow Warriors, the squad are in good shape after eight weeks of pre-season training.

Strength & Conditioning Coach Johnny O’Connor has praised the work ethic within the squad and described his path from player to coach.

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A warrior on the pitch for Connacht in his playing days, Johnny O’Connor returned to the province as the Strength & Conditioning Coach over the summer ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Ahead of the Guinness PRO14 opener against Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground in nine days (Saturday, September 2, 7.35pm), O’Connor gives us an insight into his return to Connacht Rugby.

There are still tickets available for Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, save 15% by buying online here.


Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce that Johnny O’Connor is returning to the Sportsground as the province’s Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Working with new Head of Athletic Performance David Howarth, O’Connor will be responsible for the senior squad’s strength and conditioning training and begins work at the Sportsground in the coming days.

O’Connor joins Connacht after a spell as Galway United’s Strength & Conditioning Coach having previously spent three years at the Academy of Premier League club Arsenal as their Strength & Conditioning Coach.

An inspirational leader during his playing days, the Galway native spent 10 years at Connacht Rugby along with a trophy-laden three-year spell at Wasps.

Having earned his first professional contract with Connacht in 2000, he played at the Sportsground for three seasons before moving to Wasps.

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The dynamic flanker won two Heineken Cups, two Premiership titles and a Powergen Cup with the English club before returning to Connacht in 2007 where he made a huge impact over a seven-year period.

On the international scene, O’Connor made his Ireland debut in 2004 and went on to earn 12 caps, helping the national side to Triple Crown success in 2006.

Having retired from professional rugby in 2013, O’Connor took up his first Strength & Conditioning role at Arsenal before returning home to Ireland with Galway United last year.

Commenting on the appointment, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said:

“We are delighted to be welcoming Johnny back to Connacht Rugby as Senior Strength & Conditioning Coach. He is someone that is hugely passionate about the area of S&C but also extremely passionate about the club and the people we represent.

“He has gained some valuable experience at both Arsenal and Galway United and I have no doubt that he will be a huge asset for us and the S&C team going forward.”

O’Connor said:

“This is a dream job for me and I am delighted to get the opportunity to go back to where it all started and where I played for 10 years. It is a real honour and I look forward to working with the squad and coaching team.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Galway United and wish them all the best for the rest of the season. Shane Keegan is an outstanding manager and both he and Colm Horgan, the captain, have been a great support to me during my time at the club.

“They made my job incredibly enjoyable and I really appreciate the efforts they have put in. I know the team will reap the rewards from their excellent work as the season goes on.”

Connacht Rugby can also confirm that Barry O’Brien will join the senior Strength & Conditioning team on a full-time basis following a year’s intern experience at the club.



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