Ian Keatley has signed a two-year contract that will see him stay with the province until at least June 2017 while development players Shane Buckley and Cian Bohane, and Greencore Academy player Jack O’Donoghue have all committed their immediate futures to the province.
Keatley joined Munster at the start of the 2011/12 season after three seasons with Connacht Rugby. The Dublin-born out-half has gone on to make 89 appearances for the province, scoring 703 points since making his debut against Newport Gwent Dragons in Musgrave Park in September 2011.
The 27-year-old is one of three players to score over 1000 points in the league, achieving the milestone in November’s PRO12 game against Ulster in Thomond Park.
At European level he made his debut against Castres in Thomond Park in January 2012, and last October the out-half kicked a sensational last-minute drop-goal against Sale in round one of the competition to secure victory for the province.
On the international front Ian has represented Ireland on three occasions, making his debut against Canada in May 2009. He waited four years before making his third appearance, coming on against Georgia in the Guinness Series in November. He has also represented Ireland ‘A’ 10 times and featured for Emerging Ireland in the Tbilisi Cup and Nations Cup tournaments.
Development player Shane Buckley has signed a one-year contract extension that will see him remain with the province until at least June 2016. The 22-year-old backrow forward was voted academy player of the year last season and after progressing to the senior squad made his PRO12 debut in September against Edinburgh Rugby in Thomond Park. The Cork-man has played in every Munster A game in the B&I Cup for the last two seasons and represented the Irish U20s in two Junior World Championships.
Fellow Cork-man and development player Cian Bohane has also signed a one-year extension for season 2015/16, and will progress to a full contract at the start of the 2016/17 season. A product of the Munster Rugby academy the 23-year-old centre is currently rehabbing a long-term injury after sustaining ligament damage against London Irish in the SEAT Challenge game last August. He made his PRO12 debut against Zebre in Stadio XXV Aprile in May 2013 and has two Munster caps.
Third year Greencore Academy player Jack O’Donoghue has penned a three year deal which will see him advance to development status for season 2015/16 and full contract status from 2016/17. The Waterford man is this season’s Munster A squad captain and as an academy player he made his PRO12 debut against Zebre in Thomond Park in September. The 20 year-old backrow player has featured for Ireland U20s in two Junior World Championships, captaining the squad in the 2014 campaign in New Zealand.
In addition to the above, hooker Kevin O’Byrne, who joined the province at the start of the summer on a training contact, will remain with the province until the end of the season on a development contract. The 23 year-old Cork-man has proved to be a valuable addition to the squad with ongoing injuries limiting player availability at hooker, and the former Connacht academy player has already made 8 appearances in his first year of professional rugby.
On confirming the latest contract news Head Coach Anthony Foley said, “We are extremely pleased that this group of players have committed their talents to the province. Ian is into his fourth season with us and continues to grow, and impress. He leads by example with his commitment and attitude and we are fortunate to have him in our side. He showed great composure last week to kick in difficult conditions and like great tens before him he can certainly kick a drop-goal when needed!
“It is always rewarding when securing up and coming home-grown talent such as Bohane, Buckley, O’Byrne and O’Donoghue, and is a testament to what we have to offer here in Munster. We have guys that are highly sought after in a competitive environment and it’s great for our squad to know that these guys want to contribute to their home province and compete for the jersey. We have only seen glimpses of what these young players can do and we look forward to guiding their development.”