Thursday, January 31, 2013

Clongowes Wood-30 St Gerard’s-6


Don’t expect your run-of-the-mill match report here…I got to Templeville Rd after kickoff and didn’t get the starting lineups, so I had no idea of any of the names.

But basically although Gerard’s opened the scoring with an early penalty and doubled their lead with a second, the first time Clongowes’ backs found a bit of space they went over and from then on the result wasn’t really in doubt.

When Eric Miller’s Gerard’s had the ball going forward they weren’t able to get into the opposition 22, mostly thanks to dogged Wood defence courtesy of a back row that occasionally drew the attention of the ref but more often than not forced a turnover.

On the other hand the 2010 & 2011 champion Clongowes just needed to get a couple of passes away from the base and even when tackled there always seemed to be a man available for the offload and in the end it was a satisfying 5-try haul for them.

The score was 17-6 at halftime and once the hailstones that wrote off the third quarter subsided, Clongowes turned the screw to see themselves safely through to the quarterfinals.

Still, Miller should be proud of his lads – you couldn’t help but admire the way their hooker shouted “Lads – we DO NOT DIE!” at his team-mates after the fourth try went over, but they really seemed to be second best in every area on the day.

Are Clongowes contenders?  On the evidence of today, it certainly seems so, though as they go deeper in the tournament they are bound to face sterner tests and just like all the other teams still left will no doubt be watching Monday’s draw with interest.


Iveragh RFC : Update #1

Roots & All is a project where we pick a few teams that don’t normally make the spotlight week in week out and feature them regularly throughout an entire campaign.

Iveragh RFC banner

All's quiet in Iveragh over the last couple of weeks.  U13s and U15s were to play in their respective west Munster plate competitions, but nearly all pitches in Kerry are unplayable at the moment.  Minis have had high numbers at training, but again their blitz had to be cancelled.  The seniors have a must win game against Killarney in the Mick Barry cup next Sunday, a J2 Munster cup for the teams who finished 2nd and 3rd in their respective divisions before Christmas.  The winners are guaranteed a semi final place, but again weather could be a problem.  On a positive note, showers have been installed in our temporary dressing-rooms, a welcome change from trying to wash off mud using the cold tap.  Such facilities are normal at established clubs, but we will catch up in a few years. This weekends fixtures are U15 v Tralee and seniors v Killarney.

Click here for the club’s Facebook page

Keego on…Wales & Wingers

It’s bound to be close but Ireland can certainly do it, writes Keego…


This week the blue jersey has been cleaned and put back into the cupboard and the long sleeve green jersey has been taken out and is being prepared to be worn and sweated in for the next while.

Believe it or not, I think we will be one of the top two teams in this 6 Nations. A mixture of fixtures working in our favour, the form of the younger players and the fact that Kidney is playing for a new contract makes me very positive about the upcoming games.

Whilst the side that ended November would never have been a side that Kidney would ever pick given his first choice 15. The way they autumn games finished might have changed his thinking a tiny bit. The picking of Gilroy is a sign of this. We are facing a pair of beasts on the Welsh wings, North and Cuthbert are monsters and would be favourites to win the air battle against Gilroy and, to a lesser extent, Zebo. I thought Trimble for 40-60 minutes would have been the way to go instead of Gilroy, but Kidney has shown some testicular fortitude with the Gilroy call.

This call alone may give the team a lift. It gives the signal that they team should express themselves just as they did against Argentina. Everyone knows that Argentina where not interested, but it was our best win against a ranked team in a long time, outside of the world cup. The performance stopped the pumas from playing, even if they wanted to. We need to get on the pitch with the exact same mind set.

As usual, and I am sure you get bored of me saying it, we need to do the simple things right. Minimize the errors and take the ref out of the game. Poite can be contrary (being nice in case he reads this), so we need to keep him onside. We have Wales’ number in the lineout, their second row is fairly ropey, we have 4 jumpers, so the lineout should be ours all day. The scrum will be interesting, Powell is back for Wales, but again, I am picking our front row to put the Welsh on their heels.

There does seem to be positive vibes coming from the team, the selection of Heaslip is a huge call. There are rumours abounding that Kidney didn’t pay Drico the respect of telling him before making the announcement. If that is true, then it is another bad decision from a coach that knows his time is near. But with Brian being the professional he is (being one of his twitter followers means I can use his first name), I expect him to have the best stats of the tournament. The armband is something that will galvanize Heaslip. He made a mistake against the ‘Boks, not a mistake that cost us the match, but a mistake that exacerbated the result. We were going backwards when Heaslip was yellow carded. But he has learnt from this mistake and has some experience in the former captain there for him to lean on if needed.

Our backline is better than the Welsh. More rumours of a Kearney knock in training may change this at game time, but as of now, it is Kearney and full back with Zebo and Gilroy on the wings. Kearney should have his name on the jersey instead of the number. Zebo was awesome for Munster in their last Heineken cup match. The team looked tired and incapable until Zebo lit the flash paper. The form he is showing is something that will frighten Wales. I wonder will he sneak inside a few times? Gilroy on the other hand has not been playing first team rugby since November. Trimble has been playing blinders for Ulster. As heard on Off the Ball (@secondcaptains) earlier tonight, the great Shane Horgan was saying that Trimble may be a victim of doing exactly what he is told. Staying wide and not getting as involved as Gilroy did against Argentina. This would explain his disjointed performances in green for the last while. He is a great player, once he does the opposite of what Kidney tells him, he will be back terrorizing defences.

The forwards will have a tough game. We need to at least match them in the scrum. I think our front row has the experience to do that.

The team has been selected already, and can be seen on It is a fairly strong selection. Believe it or not, I would have started with Donncha in the second row for the first half. We need a win to open up the competition and his cunning / cheekiness would be useful here. He is not best utilized coming on at the hour mark. Along with that, if we are looking towards the world cup (please don’t mention the world cup), then why is Ronan O’Gara in the squad? Ronan is not playing the next rwc, and he is NOT Brian O’Driscoll so for me, I think Keatley or Madigan should be playing. The demands of the IRFU that we must win a certain amount of games limits what Kidney can do.

I think we will win by a single score by playing a tight, tough game for the first 20 minutes. After that the backs will come into the game and cut wales deeply.

As usual, feel free to chat/abuse/debate with me on twitter @nkeegan.

Until next week….

Keego (@nkeegan): Newbie blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

BOX-KIX : Jan 31-Feb 7


[feature to be updated every Thursday and is for Irish TV only]

Times refer to start of broadcast not kickoff

Union in yellow, League in red





SKY SPORTS 2 – 5:30 PM


RTE2 - 7PM




TV5MONDE – 11:30AM

RTE2 – 12:30PM
BBC 1 – 1PM

RTE 2 & BBC 1 – 3:30PM



RTE2 & BBC1 – 2:30PM


BBC2 – 11PM

ITV 4 - 9PM
UTV - 11:15PM


RTE2 - 7PM


BBC2NI – 1:30PM








NB – This weekly feature needs your help...if you know of any other rugby on telly in the above timeframe please email me! Cheers, JLP

© JL Pagano 2013

Conor O'Shea quotes on the 6 Nations

Conor O’Shea is a coaching ambassador for QBE. For more insights go to


Conor O’Shea on...

…his 2013 6 Nations predictions

There are four teams that, if they get on a roll, could win the 6 Nations. But do I see a Grand Slam for a team this year? No, because it’s so incredibly competitive between those teams.

France and England are right up there at the moment as favourites, with Ireland and Wales both very capable and following closely behind.

Wales are the reigning Grand Slam Champions. They’ve lost seven games in a row, which is unthinkable, but that includes three away games in Australia, and further tests against New Zealand and Australia again. They’ve got a horrendous amount of injuries but if they can get those players back on the pitch, they’ll be competitive.

France look so powerful and they always do. For Ireland, England have to travel to Dublin, which is never a particularly easy game.

The one thing for sure is, though Scotland or Italy may spring a surprise, they won’t win the 6 Nations.

…Le Crunch Match

England v France is always a bit of a humdinger, always a great game to watch. But Ireland v England in Dublin won’t be a bad game either. Going into the tournament, you’d say [England v France] is the clash of the favourites, based on England’s last two games of the QBE Internationals, against South Africa, when England played a lot better than they were given credit for, and against New Zealand.

The front row clash is mouth-watering. It will be a very exciting fixture. If you were to put a gun to my head you’d have to go with France to top the lot, on the formed they showed during the autumn. They looked absolutely irresistible at times but games aren’t won on paper.

…whether Ireland are a threat

Yes. Though they lost fairly convincingly in the third test in New Zealand over the summer, they came within two minutes of winning the second test. They had a good lead going into the second half against South Africa in the autumn but were overpowered. Munster 2nd row Donnacha Ryan is stepping forward as a potential Lions lock and you have players who are coming into the team. Craig Gilroy scored a couple of tries against Argentina and looks electric. He then scored a hat-trick against Fiji.

People are talking about life after the three ‘Os’ – O’Driscoll, O’Gara, O’Connell. There’s still some life in those old dogs yet but it’s coming to the end in the next year or two and people have to replace them. People like Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney – who’s been out injured. So Ireland, when they get these guys back training, if you add the likes of a fit again Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald into the mix of the team that played against Argentina, you’ve got a competitive team.

What I love about the 6 Nations, is you can talk about form and favourites, but it goes out the window when you get to the tournament.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Queen’s RFC–Update #6

Roots & All is a project where we pick a few teams that don’t normally make the spotlight week in week out and feature them regularly throughout an entire campaign.

Queen's banner

The period since our last report has been a quieter one in terms of matches, with the weather claiming a number of games. This may well have come at an opportune time as January means exam time for the students, it’s easy to forget sometimes that young players have classes to attend and coursework to do on top of their pitch and gym sessions, but we feel that we are probably more understanding than most clubs due to the years of experience working specifically with students.

We also had some exciting news at Queen’s during this period, with the approval of the University’s first Elite Athlete programme, showing the commitment to developing and supporting top level athletes. The programme is comprehensive with recipients gaining access to Individual academic support and mentoring, financial assistance against fees and living costs, campus food vouchers and tutoring on request for any athlete that is losing out on teaching as a result of sporting commitments. This is in addition to sports conditioning, physiotherapy support, media training, programme workshops/master classes with the highly qualified personnel and Individualized career advice. The package focuses on the athlete’s holistic development and we believe it is one of the best programmes available to third level athletes. Follow this link to apply for the programme.

We have also been involved in some community outreach work, setting up a link with our local special needs secondary school- Glenveagh Primary. As part of this link our students are delivering Tag Rugby coaching to a group of approximately 20 students with a view to establishing a Team that would play regular friendly fixtures. This is a very rewarding scheme and hugely beneficial for pupils with an interest in working in an educational setting, as a means to get experience. We hope to increase our outreach by also delivering coaching in local post- primary girl’s schools.

Finally, preparations are underway for our IRFU spring tag Rugby competition which was very popular last year with 22 teams and approximately 250 players competing over six weeks. This year we hope for an even more successful competition, Tag is a great, social way to introduce new players to Rugby or allow friends to continue competing once their playing careers are over.

The next update is sure to have more information on our teams and how their seasons are progressing, as the 1st XV continue their AIL campaign, the 2nd , 3rd and 4th XVs chase domestic silverware and the Women’s team get their Ulster Cup Campaign underway.

Until next time, keep the Blue Flying Flag!

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Plight of the Earls

Please check out the blog of @BHHooker "An Irishman's view on World Rugby” – here he gives his view on Keith Earls for HoR2…


Some regular readers of my blog may have noticed that I'm harsh on a number of players, including Keith Earls.

Having been asked to explain my reasoning’s behind it on twitter, I thought 140 characters isn't enough to probably get my whole point across.

When Earls burst onto the scene in 2008, he was the new saviour of Irish rugby, the heir apparent to Brian O'Driscoll, someone we could hang all our hopes on. He was so impressive with his natural running lines and quick feet that he found his way onto the plane for the Lions in 2009.

Since then though, he hasn't progressed too much. He's still has electric pace, and a touch of quick step about him, but the cutting edge that used to produce line break after line break seems to have been figured out by defences.

Maybe that's because he isn't getting enough help from others to put him into space, or because that seems to be his only attacking move. His performances for Munster still earn him a lot of credit, but a lot of those "good performances" only involve looking dangerous with ball in hand without providing a proper cutting edge.

Earls strikes me as a technically gifted footballer, but one that seems to lack the brains to adapt his game and still provide a cutting edge.

His defence is improving, but not enough in the last few years. He still gets caught out, especially at 13, one thinks of Manu Tuilagi in particular rolling over him. As a young pretender it's forgivable, but he hasn't bulked up too much since then and his tackling isn't good enough.

Yes he can play lots of positions, but with the quality that Ireland have in the 3/4 line, he isn't needed there anymore. Others coming through can cover other positions like Zebo (Side note: I'd be really interested to see what Zebo can do from 13; he really impressed at 15, and seems to be more effective when running with the ball in the middle of the pitch) and Gilroy covering full back and wing, with Fitzgerald able to play right across the back line and McFadden being a centre playing on the wing.

In conclusion, there is no denying Earls talent, but I’m maybe questioning a bit of his know how. He needs to be given a wakeup call; much like Stephen Ferris, Tommy Bowe or even Luke Fitzgerald was at various stages of their career. And look how they turned out. And Earls isn't the only one in the current Irish set up that needs a wakeup call.

Follow BallHandling Hooker on Twitter and Facebook.

Edenderry take Leinster Women’s title

It was a busy day down at Athy RFC as the Leinster Women’s leagues were down for decision, writes Sarah Lennon…

Women's Rugby column


Athy rugby club was the setting for this season's Leinster women's league finals. The teams finishing top of Division 1-4 all qualified automatically and the remaining final places were decided as teams 2&3 contested a semi final.

In all there were 5 matches held in a busy afternoon in Athy, with the 4 division finals and a charity game for the Lynsey Cribben trust. Adding to the female theme was the fact that all matches were referred by women refs, a fantastic achievement and an indicator of the progress that women are making as referees.

The conditions were difficult in Athy, with intermittent rain and cold temperatures making handling difficult and the extremely soft surfaces making scrummaging difficult, even if it did mean a softer landing!

In the Division 4, Newbridge were hot favourites over the host side Athy, who had finished third in their first season as a team. It was Athy however that made home advantage count, sealing the narrowest of victories with a 5-0 win.

The Division 3 final wasn't as close, with Railway Union sealing a 42-0 win over Clondalkin. Railway (see above pic) have been a class apart this season in Division 3 with 8 bonus point wins. They will make a step up to Division 2 next season and provided they can keep the squad together they will fancy their chances in that league next season.

The Division 2 title was another close affair. The Carlow Coyotes had dominated the division with ten wins out of ten and the took on Old Belvedere J1 team. The last meeting between these teams had gone Carlow's way by a solitary point and it was to prove the same again. Carlow struck 2 penalties, one either side of a stunning try by Hayley White, but this was enough to secure a 6-5 win. These teams will be looking forward to renewing the contest in Division 1 next season.

In the Division 1 final Edenderry took on Rathdrum. Edenderry have a tradition of being the bridesmaids in finals and were looking to put that straight. Again, the conditions ensured that a tryfest was not on the cards and the teams exchanged a try a piece in the teeming rain. An Edenderry penalty gave them an 8-5 lead going into the final minutes and they must have feared the worst as Rathdrum lay siege to their try line. A crucial turnover followed by a relieving kick lifted the siege and Edenderry held on to win the Division 1 title by 3 points.

Some fantastic, tense rugby on display in mucky conditions on the day and Athy, Railway Union, Carlow and Edenderry were victorious in their respective divisions. The teams have no time to rest on their laurels however as this weekend sees the beginning of the Leinster Cup & Shield competitions. Special mention and good luck to two new teams in the Leinster shield with Gorey women entering as well as Old Belvedere who become the first woman's team to establish a J2 team.

Good luck to all for the cup season!

Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.

Click here for news on the Irish women’s team selected to face Wales

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“Battle of the Beauties”–(1) Sexton v Parra

Please welcome @cathreonine to the HoR2 team as she offers a unique perspective on some of the battles in the upcoming Six Nations…

O'Driscoll card(1)

What’s that you say? How can we make rugby better?

Easy! Let the numbers and stats speak for themselves….

Welcome to my 6 Nations Rugby Top Trumps (which may be slightly biased towards the more aesthetically pleasing of the rugby fraternity).

First up, Ireland’s Jonny Sexton takes on France’s Morgan Parra in the ultimate showdown!





Full name

Jonathan Sexton

Morgan Parra


Hosanna Next Jot

A Program Ran


Both terrible anagrams….no points awarded here

Date of birth

11 July 1985 (age 27)

15 November 1988 (age 24)


Quite frankly I’m appalled at how young Parra is, so Jonny gets the points here…cougar rule and all that!

Place of birth

Dublin, Ireland

Metz, France


6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)


Once again Jonny beats Parra…this time by a measly 3 inches (I think I’m still reeling by Parra’s age!).


92kg (14st 6lb)

77 kg (12 st 2 lb)


This is starting to get a little onesided - Jonny wins hands down with a cuddlesome 32 lbs, of which I can only assume is pure muscle.



Scrum-half / Fly-half


Versatility wins outright here and Parra is finally on the scoreboard.

6 Nations Appearances

14 (11 starts)

23 (15 starts)


Considering his age it’s surprising that Sexton hasn’t played more of a role in the Irish 6 Nations campaign when you compare his track record to Parra’s; however this is a debate for another day – Parra gets the points.

6 Nation Points Scored




Parra’s on a roll here, with an impressive 65 points over his Irish counterpart.


Yellow Card: 0

Red Card: 0

Yellow Card: 1

Red Card: 0


Jonny pulls back in front with an impressive squeaky clean record, whether this 6 Nations will keep that untarnished remains to be seen.




As much as it pains me to admit it, Sexton is victorious over a youthful Parra, with a nail biter of a finish on 4-3.

Manager of The PrettyBoys; the world's most beautiful yet barely functioning fantasy rugby team, Catriona  (@cathreonine) is an avid Munster supporter who has infiltrated her way into Dublin society so much so her accent is barely recognisable.

Never stand on a Puma’s paw

For his latest HoR2 blog Brendan ponders the thought process behind Puma’s decision…


Outside Herzogenaurach, there is a little hamlet called Konigschintzel. It is famous for its bratwurst, cooked over birch wood on huge grills in the main square. Last December, there was a whisper of snow on the cobblestones as Dieter Heinrich Von Bankstein ate a modest breakfast of bread and sausage in the Gasthaun Um Himmel.

The Innkeepers daughter, Helga, poured some bitter coffee into his mug. She was smiling as ever. Dieter, who has an MBA from Insead, and a double first in greats from Oxford, would be what is known as 'a good catch' in that part of Franconia.

Dieter, fluent in English ,Spanish, Catalan, French, Occitan, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Dort, wanted to put his arms around helga's bounteous waist and feast on her eyes of Savoy blue, but he had work to do.

As the go-to guy in Puma, he had to drive to Herzogenaurach along the banks of the Aurach for an urgent meeting with the board.

He left the gasthaus and got into his Audi A8. The soft nappa leather on the seat was icy to the touch. It took a number of minutes for the seat to warm up but Dieter had a cold feeling in his heart that no amount of Ingolstadt technology could fix.

Dieter loves Ireland. He loves Doolin, Paddy Casey, Glen Hansard and the other balladeers that peddle the real irish music. He likes nothing more than flying into Dublin for a good old knees-up with the folk kids on Wexford Street. He has been known to kip on Mundy's sofa in the Birr balladeer's gaffe.

With a creamy pint in front of him, he can let the world slip away. All talk of profit margins and keeping up with that other sportswear giant across the Aurach, seems to subside into "ze waters of my beloved liffey" when he lands in Dublin.

Dublin has captured his heart too. A titian-haired programmer from Kells, Ciara, she doesn't really love Dieter. The thing that gets Ciara going is seeing her boys in blue. She never misses a home match and puts on her skinny jeans, ladies fit blue leinster jersey and sequinned blue beanie for 90 minutes of thrills. She got into Leinster "loike in 05 before everybody else did". She burns as many calories trying to catch Fergus McFadden's eye as she would in a Zumba class or 90 minutes of salsa dancing with Ramon at his studio in Trim.

Dieter knows about Ciara's passion and it is what brought him to the oval-ball game.

So in 2009, he and the board decided to commit to the IRFU for an eight-year deal. The only other international rugby team that wears his brand is Namibia, the former German South-West Africa.

The thinking at the time was that "rugby is so sexy".

Dieter told the board: "In Dublin all ze women wear the rugby gear. De vill wear anythiing if it is Leinster. But ve cannot get Leinster, dey are with Canterbury it must be Ireland. Dey have won der grand slam".

"Wot is that", Dr Claus-Maria Von Schonbrunn, Puma's head of R & D had asked at the time.

"It is when vun team wins all der games against de other countries, France, England, Scotland, Wales und Italy".

Three years later and Heinrich’s beloved Ireland were still wearing Puma. Sales were good but they weren’t shipping platinum as his friends in the music industry would say. Maybe it was the black jerseys, or the really horrible materials they use.

He would tell the R & D Department: "Ze players do love the technical aspects of ze jersey but ze fans they do not. Many Irish rugby fans have wot is known as 'ze beer belly'. Ze girls love to drink pints and pints of horrible lager and cider. It is terrible for ze skin. Dey wear lots of make up to cover up. Zey look like oranges. My Ciara is different. She has skin as white as the ze cliffs of Bray Head and her hair is so red. Oh boys, I love her i do."

Ireland have yet to win another Grand Slam, or win anything of note.

Dieter had been in New Zealand in June. He had phoned back the board: "Vee nearly beat the Adidas team. Vee nearly beat ze All Blacks".

Given that the board just about knew who the All Blacks were, they weren't impressed.

Rugby is a global sport but it is a global niche sport. Outside the core IRB countries. It is in reality a university or a private school game and the clubs tend to come from universities. That is how it has developed in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Chile, Uruguay etc. From a sports marketing perspective, it will always attract the abc1 but it will never have traction or volume in those countries compared with Soccer. But the IRB is doing some excellent work from their headquarters in Dublin.

So Dieter finally made it into the boardroom.

Ulf Jagerkampf, Puma's head of International Sales and Morketing, EMEA, made the announcement: "Ve are ending our agreement with the ze IRFU. Ve vill be moving out of rugby for the future. Our Dassler cousins across the Aurach now have france, italy, Stade Francais, New Zeeland and of course, Munster. Vee are going to move into more traditional European sports like Olympic Handball. I hear that Eddie O'Sullivan is doing great work with the Irish Olympic Handball team."

Dieter cried into his bitter coffee. What was he going to tell Ciara and the zumba girls. He was going to be roasted, broiled and grilled alive like one of those bratwursts.

He said to himself: "Ze Irish girls with ze red hair, ze scare me when they get angry".

Brendan Grehan is Journalist

Twitter: @brendanxavier

Facebook: Brendan Grehan

More of the same from Kidney

Once again Kristian Ross can’t make head nor tail of the selections for the Irish squad…

kidney trimble

A few months ago, I wrote an article on Declan Kidney and how it was time for him to go. Sitting here today I can't help but reiterate that point.

To get to it, Andrew Trimble has not been picked for Ireland training squad. Why? Trimble has been in form this season, many intercept tries, and looking very sharp for Ulster. Now before people say it's because he's an ageing player, why has Ronan O'Gara been included for the umpteenth time.

I'll say it once, and I'll say it again O'Gara has been fantastic for Ireland, but surely Ian Madigan should have got a place. Times are changing, Irish Rugby is changing, it's about youth, it's about bringing players through. And then we have Darren Cave, again he's played some terrific rugby this season yet another omission from Kidney. What about Robbie Henshaw? Somehow Michael Bent is included after a disastrous game for the Wolfhounds against the Saxons. People sometimes wonder does Kidney have favourites. At times, it very much looks that way.

Then we come to "provincial bias". Yes, I may be an Ulster fan, Trimble may be an Ulster player. But the reason I would have him in the squad, or any other Ulster player omitted is because they are on form.

With the Six Nations starting at the weekend, and Kidney's contract ending in the next few months, pray that come next February it won't be Declan in charge of the boys in green.

I'm Kristian. 18. And my mind is filled with rugby shaped thoughts. Supporting Ulster Rugby, Newcastle Falcons and of course the mighty Ireland. Tommy Bowe is the MAN !!!! SUFTUM.

Connacht’s 2013/14 squad taking shape

Connacht have been busy preparing for next season; John O’Sullivan has a look at the incoming talent…


Not as publicised and no where near as ludicrously priced as our footballing neighbours "Transfer Window", there have been many rugby players who have agreed to "transfers" and will commit their futures to different clubs at the beginning of next season.

Connacht have been especially active in their player recruitment for next season, somewhat softening the blow of losing Mike McCarthy to provincial rivals, Leinster.

As well as appointing a new coach, Pat Lam, Connacht have agreed deals with three Irish qualified players, including a return to the club of two former players; Fionn Carr and Sean Henry; while also agreeing a deal with current Exeter and former Glasgow lock, Aly Muldowney.

Carr spent several years at Connacht before re-joining his home province, Leinster, two seasons ago. At best, Carr had a marginal role at Leinster; mainly playing A games and making sporadic Rabo appearances. Carr's lack of game time at the three time European champions led to many people, particularly Connacht fans, to criticise the Kildare mans decision to join Leinster. But, in retrospect, it was hard to blame Carr for returning home. After all, what player would turn down their boyhood heroes, especially when they are, perhaps, the greatest European club side in history.

Undoubtedly, training under Joe Schmidt and with the likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Isa Nacewa et al, will have improved Carr as a player, which, quite obviously, is good news for Connacht.

With O'Halloran, Vainikolo and now Carr, the Sportsground club look in rude health in the wingers department.
Another position which Connacht have significant cover in is hooker. The return of Sligo born Sean Henry, who previously represented the Westerners at U20's level, means that Connacht have four solid options at hooker. Aside from the current incumbent, Jason Harris-Wright, Connacht also have Adrian Flavin, Ethienne Reynecke, and now Henry. Who will be Connacht's first choice number two next season will be extremely interesting.

Mike McCarthy's departure left a vacancy in Connacht's second row options, this was, however, quickly rectified with the signing of Exeter lock Aly Muldowney. Irish qualified through his Newbridge born father, he is a former basketball player and is regarded as a solid line out operator and ball carrier. At thirty years old, Muldowney could potentially forge an exciting and experienced second row combination with club legend Michael Swift.

With the departures of Sexton and Conway from Leinster, the probable desertion of BJ Botha from Munster and with Ulster being surprisingly frugal, Connacht will feel that their preparations for next season are the best in the country.

Time will tell…

I’m John O’Sullivan, 20. Part time student, full time sports nut. Love rugby and am currently the PRO of Connemara RFC. I also do some radio work for my local station. One day, I would love to be a Sports Journalist/Broadcaster.

Monday, January 28, 2013

All bark and no bite?

In her latest piece for HoR2 Kate McEvoy questions the necessity for Ireland to keep Wolfhounds

kate mcevoy wolfhounds

This article is not so much a screed on my opinion on one of the rugby issues of the day, as per the norm, but more looking at an internal debate I've been having with myself. Unlike prior articles it lacks the clarity of a definite opinion à la Campese-gate., for the past two weeks or so I've been pondering – What are the Wolfhounds actually for?

It feels like the Ireland A or Wolfhounds squad is falling between two stools. As pointed out by Whiff Of Cordite, our nearest neighbours and only competitors of this season's fixture list, the England Saxons, place an emphasis on youth and development. The average age of the squad who lined out on Friday was less than 24. Our most recent selection included Isaac Boss, Andrew Trimble & Tom Court. Even with with the disparities in our playing pool & resources size, it's worth taking a moment to consider that.

Isaac Boss has captained the Wolfhounds, had a successful provincial career with both Leinster and Ulster, including two Heineken Cup winners medals with the latter and gone to the 2011 RWC. He was joined there by two of Ulster's current form players and Grand Slam winners Andrew Trimble and Tom Court. That was in fact Trimble's 2nd World Cup and he has an impressive 49 caps to Court's 29 with Boss bringing up the rear with a respectable 15.

I understand the wisdom of mixing experience with youth to a certain degree but there seems to be a school of thought that says, particularly in the case of Trimble and Court, that this was an opportunity for them to play their way into the senior side, which was a successful endeavour for the latter but not the former. But did Friday's match really have any effect on Trimble's fate? How will playing a one-off fixture with a scratch team tell Declan Kidney anything about these players that we won't have gleaned from training or their provincial performances? Is it really fair?

The squad also included one Luke Fitzgerald, who's been in sparkling form since he's returned to Leinster but after coming back from long term injury, he is short on game time, the same of which could not be said for the other three. For me, his selection made sense based on his particular circumstances. I should add as a caveat that due the dearth of any modicum of comfort for non-flyers at Dublin Airport & a delayed flight meant I didn't see the majority of the game. Seriously lads, would a TV have killed you? Forcing people to hang out in McDonalds is possibly a human rights violation. But I digress. Despite missing the match I think I'm still entitled to ask would we not have been better served in the long run to see Kieran Marmion or Denis Buckley included in the squad ?

The larger issue in my mental debate here is what exactly is The Irish Wolfhound squad for? With just one fixture currently listed against the Saxons and the discontinuation of the Churchill Cup, where does the Ireland A set-up go from here? I'm not opposed to development of the international game, far from it & think the inclusion of the US & Canada in the Pacific Nations Cup is a positive move. But it does limit opposition for the Wolfhound setup.

However from a domestic viewpoint, with the continuing growth of the provincial set-ups and their academy systems, together with the British & Irish Cup, providing a platform for young talent, is there still the same need to call up these promising youngsters to the A squad? My gut feeling is that there is still a place for the Wolfhound squad but firstly we need to decide what it's for – is it a last audition before the big show, is it for developing up and coming players, is it for game time for returning veterans, is it for rewarding the unlucky few such as captain James Coughlan who in another era would have surely earned a full international cap by now? It's not to say it can't be all of those things, although I'm not wild about the first, but surely, we need to be looking at more than one fixture a year to glean anything of real benefit from an Irish Wolfhounds call up. What competitive options do we have? What resources can be channelled into the Ireland A coffers? What players will be best served by inclusions? How can the senior squad reap the most benefit from the development side? I don't have the answers to these questions but I look forward to continuing my inner debate with input from you all.

Kate McEvoy : Munster fan in a sea of Leinster blue. Raised on a strict diet of Bective Rangers. Earliest childhood memory is stud marks in the muck. Former hooker for a father & a mother with an eye for a forward pass bordering on freakish . Often to be found down Monkstown RFC/ A & E on account of the exploits of the better half. Best rugby memory, Toulouse main square, May 24th 2008. Epitaph will read “Knew a lot about rugby for a girl.” Can be found tweeting optimistically at @ImKateMc


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019