Connacht academy players Dave Heffernan and Danny Qualter have been promoted to the province's senior squad.

Heffernan and Qualter have represented Ireland at underage rugby.

Heffernan, born in Ballina and a graduate of Blackrock College, recently converted from the back-row to hooker. He has featured mostly for development side Connacht Eagles this season.

Athlone native Qualter is a second row. He made his debut for the senior Connacht team this season, coming off the bench against Edinburgh at home in the Sportsground.

His performance in that match earned him a further two senior appearances in the Heineken Cup games, both home and away, against French side Biarritz.

Their elevation to senior squad status was welcomed by Connacht assistant coach Dan McFarland.

He said: "Half way through this season, we started training with Dave at hooker. While it's early days, he has shown great progress and had a fantastic game against Ulster last week.

"He is an excellent athlete and a very physical player. I'm looking forward to working closely with him next season."

On Qualter, he added: "Danny has shown huge potential at underage level. He is a very intelligent rugby player with excellent skills. He did very well for us when we needed him during the year and it's fantastic to have him as an option in the second row."