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Ulster hooker John McKee awarded place in Leinster Academy

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Major lift: Campbell skipper John McKee holds aloft the Schools’ Cup in 2018

Major lift: Campbell skipper John McKee holds aloft the Schools’ Cup in 2018

Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Major lift: Campbell skipper John McKee holds aloft the Schools’ Cup in 2018

Campbell College's 2018 Schools' Cup winning captain John McKee has been inducted into the Leinster Academy.

The 20-year-old had captained Ulster's Under 18 side before enrolling at University College, Dublin.

It was from there that he attracted the attention of the Leinster sub-Academy.

McKee has now been rewarded for his progress with a place among the reigning Pro14 champions' seven Year One Academy recruits.

Since becoming involved in the Leinster system, McKee has shifted across the front row from loosehead prop to hooker and now plays his club rugby with All Ireland Division 1B side Old Belvedere.

He captained Ireland's Under 19 side last year having played a part in the Under 20s' Six Nations Grand Slam and Junior World Cup campaign.

In the early stages of 2020, he split Ireland U20 game-time with Ulster Rugby hooker Tom Stewart before getting a start in the impressive win over England.

It remains to be seen whether McKee and his international team-mates will be given the chance to complete an historic second Grand Slam in succession, with wins over Scotland, Wales and England already secure.

"We are still hopeful that the games will be replayed and there are tentative talks of that happening towards the end of October," said Ireland U20s coach and Leinster Academy manager Noel McNamara. "Once that is confirmed it would be great to get the group back together.

"It would definitely be very exciting for that group of players to come back and get an opportunity to play together again and to represent Ireland at that level."

Ulster, of course, are well used to profiting from imports from other provinces. Amongst the current senior side in the northern province are as many as 11 Leinstermen; John Cooney, Greg Jones, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O'Connor, David O'Connor, Eric O'Sullivan, Tom O'Toole, Dave Shanahan and Nick Timoney and well as two Munstermen in Bill Johnson and Clive Ross.

Now John McKee is keen to help return the favour by making it all the way to Leinster's first team.

The other six players to be brought into the Leinster Academy are McKee's Ireland U20 team-mates Niall Comerford, Joe McCarthy, John McKee, Sean O’Brien, Max O’Reilly, Andrew Smith and Alex Soroka.

Belfast Telegraph