...Derby Time: The local derbies are coming thick and fast in the AIB League. Next Saturday (December 9) sees two big ones in Division One with western rivals Galwegians and Buccaneers clashing at Crowley Park, and UCD and Blackrock College locking horns at Belfield (kick-offs 2.30pm)...
BE A BRICKIE FOR CLANWILLIAM: You can follow on the footsteps of Munster and Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan by becoming a 'brickie' for the Clanwilliam club in Tipperary.
The club are embarking on an ambitious project to provide new facilities at their Collegelands pitch, which is south of Tipperary town centre. A new clubhouse, with dressing rooms, showers and training facilities, is due to be completed there in early 2007.
'Notional' bricks are currently for sale at EUR100 each. It is a great idea, IrishRugby.ie will certainly consider investing or purchasing one as a Christmas present!
You can support Clanwilliam by purchasing a brick (or more!) from a committee member. You can contact the club at tel: 062-51345, or by emailing the President, Robert Costigan at firstname.lastname@example.org - all monies raised will be ploughed into the Collegelands facility.
All sales of bricks will be recorded and names allocated per brick will be displayed on the Clanwilliam website www.clanrugby.ie, and ultimately, on permanent display in the clubhouse.
In addition to your own personal brick, the club will have some prize draws limited to brick purchasers for tickets to upcoming matches: Munster v Leinster (Thomond Park, Magners League), Ireland v France and Ireland v England (Croke Park, RBS 6 Nations) and other Heineken Cup games.
TRINITY TO MEET THE PARENTS: Dublin University FC will be hosting their Annual Under-20s Parents Day next Sunday (December 10) in the Pavilion Bar, from 1pm. This has been a very successful venture for Trinity over the years, with new players' parents invited to come along and meet the DUFC management.
There are two games in the offing at College Park before and after Sunday's get-together - the Trinity Under-20 'A' team will play Seapoint at 2.30pm, while preceeding the lunch, the U-20 Bs take on Blackrock (11.30am).
Meanwhile, Trinity have confirmed that their Corporate Dinner will take place in the TCD Dining Hall on February 23 next, on the eve of the historic Ireland v England RBS 6 Nations clash at Croke Park. Fittingly, legendary GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh has been booked as the guest speaker.
HEINEKEN CONNACHT JUNIOR CUP DRAW: Castlebar was the venue for the draw for the 2006/07 Heineken Connacht Junior Cup competition on Monday night. The fixtures are as follows:
Preliminary Round - date tbc - (A) Ballina v Westport, (B) Ballyhaunis v Carrick-on-Shannon, (C) Creggs v Buccaneers, (D) Monivea v Tuam, (E) NUI Galway v Gort, (F) Portumna v Castlebar
First Round - January 28, 2007 - (G) Winners F v Connemara, (H) Ballinrobe v Ballinasloe, (I) Winners A v Dunmore, (J) Galwegians v Winners E, (K) Corrib v Winners C, (L) Corinthians v Sligo, (M) OLBC v Winners D, (N) Loughrea v Winners B
Quarter-Finals - February 25 - (O) Winners G v Winners M, (P) Winners K v Winners N, (Q), Winners L v Winners I, (R) Winners H v Winners J
Semi-Finals - March 11 - (S) Winners Q v Winners P, (T) Winners O v Winners R
Final - March 25
FAIR PLAY: Referees and touch judges do not have it easy, especially with this current spate of weather, and they deserve tremendous credit for their part in the smooth running of competitions like the AIB League.
Before a recent game involving Ballynahinch, the cat was set amongst the pigeons when it was learned that one of the appointed touch judges had been double-booked and was on duty in Cork. Step forward 'Hinch club stalwart Mervyn Smyth, who has been the County Down club's fourth official for AIB League games for the past decade.
Mervyn is regularly seen on the sidelines at Ballymacarn Park, checking teamsheets and recording the replacements made, which can be hard work at times. The bould 'Merv' stepped forward as stand-by touch judge for the game, taking charge of the flag with aplomb and for this we salute you Mr. Smyth!
Meanwhile, IrishRugby.ie would like to acknowledge the good work of Jolene Cloughley, a third year student at the University of Ulster, who is currently spreading the rugby gospel over in Oklahoma in the United States.
Jolene's rugby roots lie at Chambers Park, where she partook in Portadown RFC's minis programme, and she came up through the Ulster system, captaining the province's Under-17s and making the Ulster senior squad two seasons ago.
Having been Stateside since the summer, she is now volunteering as a Development Officer with Oklahoma Rugby Inc. and coaches girls aged 12 to 18 in the town of Norman. As well as that she has been lining out at outside centre for the Oklahoma Roses Women's team.
Appointed coach and allocated her own bank account to put together a new Oklahoma Girls team, Jolene admitted: "The game of rugby in the US mirrors rugby in Ireland except for a few things. I've only seen one team play by mauling! Our coach concentrates only on rucking."
SNIPPETS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY: ...Best of luck to Castlebar RFC who are in the midst of putting together a new club website. The Connacht Junior League Division 1 outfit, who recently confirmed Senator Windows as their sponsors for another three years, are holding a Race Night in Tolsters next Friday night (December 8), beginning at 9pm. All support is appreciated...
...There will be excitement aplenty on New Year's Eve, not just because of 'The Last Stand' clash between Leinster and Ulster at Lansdowne Road, but the draws for both the RE/MAX Metropolitan and Provincial Towns Cup competitions will take place prior to the game in the Lansdowne clubhouse...
...Old Crescent RFC made a presentation recently, before their AIB League game against Midleton, to their former player Eoin Reddan to mark his first senior international appearance for Ireland against France last February. In return, the 26-year-old Wasps scrum half presented the Limerick club with his first Ireland jersey...
...A surprise 70th birthday party was thrown by City of Armagh RFC on Saturday for the club's much-loved former prop forward Tommy Kennedy. Tommy, who watched Armagh's Junior Cup win over Bangor oblivious to the party preparations in the clubhouse, has the distinction of appearing in more Ravenhill cup finals than any other post war player.
A marvellous rendition of 'The Boys from the County Armagh' was belted out after speeches from members of Tommy's family, club representatives, Tommy's former team-mates Bill Davidson and John Kingston, and the IRFU's John Callaghan. Many happy returns TK!...