Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to confirm contract extensions for local players Eoin McKeon and Darragh Leader.

Galway-born McKeon made his professional debut away to Scarlets in April 2010 and has since played 105 times for his home province. A graduate of the Connacht Academy, the 25-year-old has represented Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 level. In the summer of 2013, he travelled with the Emerging Ireland squad to Georgia to play in the Tsbili Cup.

A former student of Colaiste Ioganid, McKeon has featured in 20 of Connacht’s 26 games this season, starting in the back row for 14 of those games and touching down for tries against Ospreys and Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO12.

23-year-old Leader from Castlegar, Co. Galway has also put pen to paper on a new deal with his native province. The versatile back three player returns to full training this week having initially recovered from a long-term hand injury and subsequently a minor hamstring issue.

A Connacht Academy graduate, Leader made his senior debut in October 2012 away to Ospreys in the PRO12 and has since played 51 times for the province. Having attended St. Joseph’s College, he played all his club rugby with Galwegians RFC and went on to represent Ireland at Under-19 and U20 level.

Commenting on the latest contract news, Connacht CEO Willie Ruane said:

“The contract extensions of local born players Eoin and Darragh is great news for Connacht Rugby and our supporters. We are really pleased with how are retention plan is taking shape for next season and beyond.

“Eoin is part of a highly competitive forward pack here at Connacht and he is comfortable playing across the back row, as evidenced this season. His agility and athletic ball carrying ability continues to grow game after game.

“While Darragh has been unfortunate with injury over the last year, he has shown his determination and mental hunger to come back from disappointment. While his strength lies at fullback, he has shown his versatility by switching to wing and centre on different occasions. His goal-kicking abilities, especially from long range, have also been called upon in the past. We hope to see him back in a Connacht jersey very soon.”

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Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce the signing of Irish second row Gavin Thornbury on a two-year deal.

23-year-old Thornbury recently spent six months in New Zealand where he initially joined club side Border on the North Island. Having helped Border to title glory in the Wanganui premier club competition, the former Ireland under-20’s player earned a place in the Wanganui provincial representative team, who play in the Heartland Championship – the tier below New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup. The 6-foot 7-inch lock was part of the Wanganui team that won the Meads Cup in October 2016.

Thornbury’s successful stint in New Zealand came after his first season as a professional with Leinster which was unfortunately affected by injury.

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

“We’re delighted to have Gavin joining us next season. He is a young Irish lock who has huge potential and has shown his desire to succeed at this level by taking a chance with his move to New Zealand where he did very well.”

Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy added:

“We are delighted to be adding Gavin to our squad for next season. He is someone we have been monitoring over the past number of seasons. Gavin is a strong set piece operator, has a huge appetite for work and has shown an eye for scoring opportunities. We are looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the club.”

Gavin Thornbury said:

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to play with Connacht Rugby. The exciting brand of rugby is hugely attractive and I very much hope to build on my experience to date – particularly from New Zealand. I look forward to making a positive contribution to the club’s continued success over the next few years.”

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Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are delighted to announce that John Muldoon has signed a new contract for the 2017/18 season. The latest deal will extend Muldoon’s professional career at the province to an impressive 15 seasons.  This current season marks his sixth as captain of the club.

The Portumna man made his senior debut in 2004 and has since played 291 times for his home province, including 66 European games. The highest capped player, both for Connacht and in the PRO12 championship, the 34-year-old has started 16 of Connacht’s 17 games this season.

Commenting on the news, John said:

“It’s hard to believe next season will be my 15th with Connacht. In one way the time has flown by but we have also changed immeasurably as a club in the time since I started out. I am proud of everything we have achieved, highlighted by the PRO12 win last season, but I believe there is a lot more to come from us as a club.

“I have always said that I would like to continue playing if I had the physical fitness and mental hunger to do so. I am loving my rugby and continuously learning and it was an easy decision in the end to sign on again. It remains a huge honour playing for and leading my home province and I am really excited about the future of Connacht Rugby.”

Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said:

“It’s no surprise that everyone at Connacht Rugby is delighted that our captain John Muldoon will be playing another season at the Sportsground. John continues to be a vital member of our team highlighted by the fact that he is still the first name you expect to see on the team sheet week in week out.

“He is a role model in our community and to every player that comes in the gates of the Sportsground.”

Head Coach Pat Lam added:

“John represents so much of what Connacht Rugby is about. He continues to drive high standards of himself and everyone around him. I have seen how others constantly look to him as an example of what you can achieve with hard work and determination.

“Personally, I’ve enjoyed every minute of working with him the last four seasons and I’m delighted that he’ll continue to play and lead in the Connacht jersey next season.”

Connacht Rugby has today confirmed that outhalf Steve Crosbie and centre Tom Farrell have been added to the senior squad for the remainder of the 2016/17 season. Loosehead prop Peter McCabe has also joined the province on a loan deal from Munster Rugby.

23-year-old outhalf Steve Crosbie, who can also play in midfield, joins the province on the back of a short term contract with Munster where he made two appearances for their ‘A’ side in the British & Irish Cup last month. The former Ireland under-20’s player originally came through the Leinster academy system and made two Guinness PRO12 appearances at the beginning of the 2014/15 season.

The Connacht coaching team have also boosted their options at midfield with the addition of 23-year-old Tom Farrell who joins from English Championship side Bedford Blues where he made 12 appearances this season. Having played with Lansdowne RFC, Farrell came through the Leinster Academy and also represented Ireland at under-19 and under-20 level. He joined up with his new team mates at the Sportsground on Monday and was today added to the European Rugby Champions Cup squad for the province.

24-year-old McCabe has also joined the province on loan from Munster Rugby and as cover for current front row injuries. The Cork-born prop impressed on a number of occasions for Munster ‘A’ after making his B&I Cup debut in the 2015 quarter-final against Doncaster Knights. He made his senior debut in the Guinness PRO12 this season, coming on as a replacement against the Ospreys and a week later starting in the friendly against the Maori All Blacks at Thomond Park.

 

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