Connacht have confirmed six members of their academy have been promoted to the senior squad for next season, including back three prospect Diarmuid Kilgallen.

Kilgallen has been a regular presence in the matchday 23 this season, scoring on his debut against Ulster in the United Rugby Championship in October, before also grabbing a try on his Heineken Champions Cup debut in December.

The Kildare native will step up from the academy to professional terms next season along with five of his team-mates.

Among them is second row Darragh Murray, who joins his older brother Niall at lock next season in the senior squad.

Galway pair Shane Jennings and Cathal Forde are also stepping up to senior contracts in the summer, with the pair having featured for Ireland Under-20s last year. Both players play primarily in the centre, while Forde is also capable at out-half.

There are also first professional deals for back rows Oisin McCormack and Ciaran Booth.

Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has congratulated the six players on their contracts:

"This is a special day both for Connacht Rugby and for Ciaran, Cathal, Shane, Diarmuid, Oisin and Darragh.

"They have each forged their own paths to professional rugby through hard-work and dedication, and with the help of their coaches, parents and volunteers along the way.

"It's particularly pleasing that 4 of the 6 players came through the Connacht pathway, playing their club and school rugby here in the west of Ireland. I’m looking forward to further integrating them into the pro setup and help us challenge for honours in the years ahead"