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PRO 14    

Keatley leaving Munster and Leinster sign Connacht's Kelleher...

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PRO 14    

Keatley leaving Munster and Leinster sign Connacht's Kelleher - reports

Ian Keatley is on way out of Munster. Keatley has found game-time hard to come by this season, with Joey Carbery the first choice at 10 since his move from Leinster, while JJ Hanrahan the preferred option as back-up this season. Tyler Bleyendaal can also operate at 10, meaning Munster are well stacked in that position.

Keatley was linked to a move to Ulster last summer when news first emerged of Carbery’s switch to Thomond Park and before Ulster had landed Billy Burns from Gloucester.

Keatley, who has 7 Ireland caps, joined Munster in 2011 from Connacht and has made 180 appearances, notching up 1247 points for the club.

The 31-year-old is headed for Italy, with the Limerick Leader stating that a switch to Benetton has been done.

Keatley would be competing with Italian internationals Tomasso Allen and Dublin-born Ian McKinley, who both may miss the start of the season if they’re included in Conor O’Shea’s squad for the World Cup in Japan.

Benetton, who are coached by New Zealander Kieran Crowley, are third in Conference B of the PRO14 with seven wins and six defeats.

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Meanwhile, Andy Friend may be building a formidable side out in the West of Ireland but the Connacht head coach will to plan without Cian Kelleher next season.

The 24-year-old winger has elected to return to Leinster, where he came through the Academy system. Kelleher, who had an injury-disrupted first season, has proven to be a hit with 14 tries in 44 appearance, a rate of almost one in three appearances.

The Irish Times report that the desire to win international honours prompted the move back to Leinster.

Kelleher will be be vying for a place in the starting XV with the likes of Jordan Larmour, James Lowe, Dave Kearney, Adam Byrne, Joe Tomane and Fergus McFadden, among others.

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Keatley leaving Munster and Leinster sign Connacht's Kelleher - reports