Promising youngster Niall Martin joins Ulster Academy
UP-AND-COMING outside-half Niall Martin has left Newport Gwent Dragons Academy after being snapped up by Ulster Academy.
The 18-year-old from Newport attracted the interest of the Heineken Cup finalists not only because of his potential but also as a result of his Irish links.
The teenager, who turns 19 next month, was born in Ballymoney in Northern Ireland, his father stationed in the province with the British Army during The Troubles.
He also has Irish ancestry through a grandfather born in County Wexford.
The 5ft 7in and 11st 9lb Martin made his semi-professional debut in the Premiership for Newport last October during their defeat to Aberavon at Rodney Parade and went on to make five appearances for the Black and Ambers last season. The ex-Coleg Gwent student was being mentored by the former Wales star Mark Ring who coaches the Dragons’ Junior Academy backs at the college’s Cross Keys campus as well as coaching the village’s successful Premiership side.
Martin played a vital role in Coleg Gwent’s Cross Keys’ dramatic 17-16 victory over Llanelli side Coleg Sir Gâr to win the Colleges League in May.
Played in atrocious conditions at Bridgend’s Brewery Field, the fly half showed nerves of steel to secure the win with a drop goal deep in injury time.
Martin was due to feature with Cross Keys this season but will now play for the famous Ballymena club in the league as well as Ulster Academy and Under-20s.
“I was really looking forward to playing with Keys and working with Ringo – his analysis is out of this world,” Martin said. “But going to Ulster on this academy contract is such an exciting chance.”