Connacht sign Exeter's Irish-qualified lock Aly Muldowney

Aly Muldowney in possession for Exeter Chiefs

Connacht have signed Exeter Chiefs lock Aly Muldowney on a three-year contract.

The Irish-qualified player has spent the last two years at the Chiefs and played in five out of the club's six Heineken Cup games this season.

Former basketball player Muldowney, 29, signed his first full-time contract with Glasgow in 2010 before moving to Exeter the following season.

Muldowney is a direct replacement for Ireland lock Mike McCarthy who will head to Leinster after this season.

A Connacht statement said that the club had secured Muldowney's signature despite interest from other teams.

"We have managed to get him to Connacht ahead of stiff competition from several sides in the Aviva Premiership and elsewhere," said Connacht chief executive Tom Sears.

"He is a very physical, ball-carrying Irish qualified lock who gets through an enormous amount of work.

"We are putting a great deal of work into recruitment for next year and finding a leading Irish-qualified player to bolster our options in the second row was one of the priorities.

"We are looking to recruit further at lock and other positions and are looking at a number of potential signings before next season."

Muldowney spoke of his delight at joining the Irish province.

"I'm very much looking forward to joining the club, improving my rugby and adding what I can to the squad," he said.

"I've really enjoyed my time at Chiefs, they are a great club and have a really good squad. Rob (Baxter) and Ali (Hepher) have really helped me improve my game over the last two years."

Earlier this week, Connacht announced the signings of Leinster winger Fionn Carr and Munster hooker Sean Henry.