Ireland U18 international Karl Martin signs for Top 14 club Montpellier

IRELAND U18 INTERNATIONAL Karl Martin has signed an academy deal with Top 14 club Montpellier.

The promising Drogheda centre is set to move to France this summer.

Boyne RFC product Martin has played his underage rugby with Leinster – making his debut for the U18s when he was still only 15 – and represented Ireland at U18 level but will now pursue a professional career in French rugby.

18-year-old Martin played with Old Belvedere RFC in recent seasons – representing their U20 side while still in school at Saint Mary’s DS – and was named on the Leinster A bench against Munster last December.

It’s understood that Leinster were keen to retain Martin but didn’t have a full academy place available for him ahead of next season. Rather than remain in Leinster’s sub-academy until next year, he has opted to make the move to Montpellier, whose director of rugby Philippe Saint-André has links in Ireland.

While young Irish players have generally tended to stay within the game on these shores, there have been a handful of moves abroad in recent times.

Highly-rated former St Michael’s College captain Will Hickey, who played alongside Martin for the Ireland U18s, is now with the Ospreys in Wales after he missed out on a Leinster academy spot amidst the fierce competition for back row places.

Meanwhile, ex-CBC Cork student Eoghan Barrett has been starting Top 14 games for Pau this season having initially moved to France in 2018 after he was overlooked by the Munster academy. Barrett recently signed a new two-year deal.

Hooker Billy Scannell, the younger brother of Munster duo Rory and Niall, is currently on the books at French Pro D2 club Biarritz.

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