Moloney joins best mate O'Brien in Connacht back row
The signs of Connacht's consistent advance has been given another 'green-light' now that Pat Lam has awarded former Leinster and Ireland Schools flanker Rory Moloney his first senior contract.
Back when Moloney was on the verge of leaving Cistercian College Roscrea in 2013, the offer of a Leinster Sub-Academy place was trumped by his signature to a full Connacht Academy. In reality, the Leinster roster was, and remains, bursting with Ireland international back row talent.
The loose forward made the smart decision to follow the same path as his school team-mate Sean O'Brien, one year older and further down the track in cementing the number six shirt.
The man from Abbeyleix progressed to chalk up the captaincy of the Connacht U19s and 13 caps over two seasons for the Ireland U20s in 2014 and 2015.
The way Moloney has moved through the Connacht system directly from his three years into the senior ranks speaks volumes for his application.
The likelihood is the 21-year-old will be the best piece of business, injury permitting, out of the four contracts confirmed yesterday as lock Danny Qualter, prop JP Cooney and Sha ne O'Leary all extended their commitment to the Western Province.
"While recruitment is ongoing, I have always said that retention is a very important part of what we do," said Lam.
"It is vital we hold onto young players like these who have demonstrated that they have the talent and desire to succeed in a professional set-up.
"Next season we will be defending a PRO12 title and competing in the top-tier of Europe for the first time in three years.
"We are very pleased with the talent and the calibre of young Irish talent we have coming through the system and these four guys epitomise that."
CONNACHT'S OUTGOING PLAYERS
R Ah You, G Naoup u, F Carr, R Henshaw, A Muldowney, J Harris-Wright, AJ MacGinty, I Porter,
C Finn, A Pewhairangi.