Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have announced that Academy players Cillian Gallagher, Conan O’Donnell and Peter Claffey have all signed senior professional contracts with the province for the 2018/19 season.

Gallagher and O’Donnell’s development closely reflects the impressive growth of the game in the wider Sligo region, driven by the great work of Sligo RFC, Summerhill College and Sligo Grammar School.

O’Donnell’s rise through the ranks at club and school level was rewarded with the prop making his debut for the Connacht senior side in the PRO12 winning season in 2016. He has since gone on to make a total of nine senior appearances in his three years in the academy system.

Lock Cillian Gallagher is another product of Sligo RFC and has signed his first professional contract after a two-year term. He made his debut for the senior team at home to Worcester Warriors in the European Challenge Cup in October and has gone on to make five appearances in total this season.

Portumna native Peter Claffey is a lock who also has a bright future having graduated through both Ballinasloe RFC and Garbally College. Claffey’s development is a continuation of their great work at grassroots level within then province.

“It is great to see three players from the province making the step up to the senior squad,” said Connacht coach Kieran Keane on their official website.  “All three have been integrating into the senior squad training this season and we have been impressed with the progress they have made.

“Their development to full time professional contracts is a credit to the work being done at club and schools level throughout the province.”