SHORT PUNTS: ...A meeting has been arranged by the President and Executive of Lansdowne FC to inform club members about the current state of negotiations with the IRFU concerning the re-development of Lansdowne Road. As many Lansdowne club members as possible are urged to attend the meeting at 6.30pm this Thursday (February 23) in the clubhouse...
...A UL Bohemians Under-19 side will play London Irish Under-19s in a friendly match at Thomond Park this Saturday (February 25) at 12.00pm. Bohemians and London Irish last played each other at an adult level in the 1930s so this will be the first game between the sides since Bohs amalgamated with the University of Limerick in 1999. Former Bohs, Shannon and Munster player Mick McLoughlin, a brother of Gerry, is the coach of the Bohs Under-19s...
...Blackrock College RFC will play host to the Under-19 International between Ireland and Wales this coming Saturday. Kick-off at Stradbrook is 1.00pm...
...Dolphin, who are currently sitting pretty in second place in Division Two, have booked RTE rugby pundit and Newstalk 106 presenter George Hook as their guest speaker for the lunch function before their league clash with Old Crescent at Musgrave Park on Saturday, March 4...
...Scottish club Dunbar will make their annual trip to Skerries RFC on the weekend of March 9-12. The annual match - the 54th between the clubs - will take place at Holmpatrick on Friday, March 10 (kick-off 2.30pm). Drinks and dinner will follow in the clubhouse at 7.30pm with the cost of the meal set at 30. Further details are available from Nicky McDonough (Tel: 0866089551) and Sandy Heffernan (Tel: (01) 8491676)...
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: On any other weekend, Buccaneers full-back Tom Cregan would have taken the honour after his injury-time heroics against Belfast Harlequins. The former Shannon ace, having also scored 16 points, grabbed a try and held his nerve to convert it in the seventh minute of time added on at Dubarry Park for a thrilling 33-32 win against 'Quins.
But, Queen's University winger Michael Barker is our player of the week. Barker, who started for the Ireland Under-19s against the Australian Schools side in December, scored an incredible five tries away to fifth-placed Bruff on Saturday, guiding Queen's to only their second win in ten Division Three games.
A member of the Queen's Rugby Academy, Barker grabbed his first touch down after five minutes and added four more in the second half as the students coasted out to a 41-13 success. Quite a memorable afternoon for Barker, whose side have leapfrogged both Skerries and Connemara to sit third-from-bottom in the table.
TRY OF THE WEEK: A few to choose from - Ireland Under-21 hooker Sean Cronin was impressive when running in a lengthy effort for Shannon against Lansdowne. Mary's sole try against Ballymena scored by hooker Ollie McCormack, after a lightning backline move, was also a notable one.
Continuing the front row trend, there has to been a mention for Malone's match-winning score in their 14-13 defeat of fellow Division Two strugglers Highfield. After 67 minutes at Gibson Park, John Anderson made a sizzling break out of defence before feeding his centre partner Rhys Botha, who broke two tackles and sent tighthead prop Michael Stokes hurtling over in the corner.
But the try of the week accolade goes to Ulster, Ireland and Lions winger Tyrone Howe, who notched a crucial seven-pointer in Dungannon's 29-27 win over Galwegians at Stevenson Park. The 34-year-old showed a brilliant turn of speed to race a full 80 metres and score under the posts in an enthralling end to the Division One tie. Fly half Gareth Steenson converted and although 'Wegians fought back with an injury-time try from hooker John Burke, full-back Brendan Bartley screwed his conversion attempt wide.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK: "Having the likes of (former UL Bohemians centre) Breffni (O'Donnell) and (ex-Shannon scrum half) Fiach (O'Loughlin) has been a big help. There's always a perception that maybe Dublin teams don't travel very well, but they've brought a Munster outlook with them, that's the only way they know. We've always had ability in the squad, but it's all about instilling that extra belief into players that they can go out and win tough games.
"This might be our year. We don't want to be over-confident, Shannon and Garryowen are still playing well and Cork Constitution will be in the shake-up. We just want to keep our focus from now until the end of the season." Clontarf coach Phil Werahiko, speaking to the Irish Examiner, after his side's 44-14 thumping of County Carlow on Saturday - their sixth successive win in Division One.
"Niall (Malone) made the call (to turn down three penalty kick chances), and I stand by him. I guess he thought he was not confident enough and you cannot blame anybody for the overall performance. I was happy with the way the players came back late in the second half to get a try and at least get a bonus point.
That (next game against Clonakilty) is a massive game now. Our destiny is still currently in our hands. But if we were to lose against Clonakilty (in a fortnight), we not only would have to win our remaining games, but we would be relying on other teams to do us favours." Instonians coach Clem Boyd, speaking to the News Letter, after watching his side go down 18-19 to Wanderers. The defeat saw Inst lose their grip on top spot in Division Three.
TEAM OF THE WEEK:
15. Tom Cregan (Buccaneers)
14. Michael Barker (Queen's)
13. Ronan Murphy (Suttonians)
12. Breffni O'Donnell (Clontarf)
11. Derek Corcoran (Young Munster)
10. Jason Holland (Midleton)
9. Paul Marshall (Ballynahinch)
1. Les Hogan (Shannon)
2. James Blaney (Terenure College)
3. Paul Doran-Jones (Dublin University)
4. Donnacha Ryan (Shannon)
5. Henry Head (Ballymena)
6. Chris McClean (Old Wesley)
7. Trevor Richardson (Buccaneers)
8. Alex Dunlop (Terenure College)