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Rugby Shorts: November 30

Rugby Shorts: November 30

…McDermott “Optimistic” About Ireland Under-21 Squad…Top Jockey Geraghty At Lansdowne Race Night…Galwegians Club Death…Autumn Market Movers…Did You Know? Damien Browne…

MCDERMOTT “OPTIMISTIC” ABOUT IRELAND UNDER-21 SQUAD: Ireland Under-21 coach Mark McDermott was a happy man after watching the 2005/06 crop of U-21s go through their paces against two French regional sides at Blackrock College RFC’s Stradbrook ground last Saturday.

A panel of 44 Irish players were split into two teams with the first outfit losing 33-11 to the visitors, but the second, after conceding two early tries, came back to grab a heartening 16-10 win.

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McDermott, who is assisted this season by coach Nigel Carolan, manager Niall O’Shea and Steve Anderson, the IRFU’s High Performance manager, said: “As an exercise, the positives outweighed the negatives, particularly in the second match where the team recovered from a slow start to dominate their opponents. It’ll be a reasonably easy job to pare down the squad to 30 players.

“In comparison to last year’s squad there is a little bit more football in this crop of players. It’s great to be able to look at players away from a domestic environment and discover their aptitude to play at international level. I’m optimistic that there is a glood blend of players,” he told the Irish Times.

McDermott reassembles his squad for a training camp from December 18-20, in preparation for a December 30 clash with Leinster “A” at Stradbrook. A second training camp is scheduled for January 15-17 next with another outing against Leinster “A” to be played at Donnybrook on January 17.

TOP JOCKEY GERAGHTY AT LANSDOWNE RACE NIGHT: Lansdowne will be hoping top jockey Barry Geraghty can pass on some winning tips to the club’s Firsts XV after losing their last two AIB League Division One matches, and scoring just three points in the process.

Meath man Geraghty, who rode Kicking King to Gold Cup glory at Cheltenham last March, is the special guest at Lansdowne’s Race Night next Saturday (December 3). The venue is the Lansdowne FC clubhouse with the first race off at 7.30pm.

With the day’s proceedings kicking off with Lansdowne tackling on-form Cork Constitution on the pitch, there is sure to be a large crowd for the evening’s festivities. All are welcome and anyone wishing to purchase a horse, jockey and trainer, is advised to contact: Bobby Geraghty, Alan
Maher, Graham Quinn, Andy Tallon, Stuart McCarron, Kilian Kennedy, Karl
Cleere or Ricky Geraghty.

GALWEGIANS CLUB DEATH: It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that Galwegians RFC note the sudden passing of the club’s Youth Academy “Mighty Man”, Finbarr Barrett. The club’s thoughts and deepest sympathies and those of the rugby community at large are with his wife Helena and sons Shane, Jason and Kevin at this sad time. May he Rest in Peace.

Finbarr’s remains will repose in ‘Suimhneas’ (behind Clarinbridge Church) this Thursday, December 1, from 5pm to 7pm. Removal to the chruch will follow immediately afterwards. The funeral mass takes place on Friday (December 2) at 1pm.

AUTUMN MARKET MOVERS: France, following four autumn Tests wins out of four, are evens money favourites to win the 2006 RBS Six Nations Championship, according to Paddy Power bookmakers.

Victories over Australia (26-16), Canada (50-6), Tonga (43-8), and South Africa (26-20) have seen les Bleus’ price shortened with England (7/4), 2005 champions Wales (4/1), Ireland (16/1), Scotland (50-1) and Italy (1000/1) tailing behind Bernard Laporte’s side.

Ireland are rated at 12/1 with Paddy Power to repeat their Triple Crown win of 2004, next spring – England, who face both Wales (February 4) and Ireland (March 18) at their Twickenham home, are favourites to bag a 2006 Triple Crown at 4/7.

Predictably, the 2007 World Cup market is headed by New Zealand (11/10) after their “Grand Slam” tour showing, topped off by last Saturday’s 29-10 victory over Scotland. France (3/1) and South Africa (9/2) are their closests rivals. Ireland are priced at 66/1 to walk off with the William Webb Ellis trophy in France.

DID YOU KNOW?: That at 20st 10lbs, Northampton Saints’ Galway-born lock Damien Browne is rated as the second heaviest player in the 2005/06 Guinness Premiership. The 25-year-old, who stands at 6ft 6ins, is outgunned in the weight stakes by Worcester Warriors’ lock Tim Collier (21st 9lbs).

Browne, who left Connacht for Northampton at the end of the 2004/05 season, has represented Ireland at Under-19 and Under-21 levels and puts his considerable height and weight down to a great-uncle of his who stood at 7ft 2ins tall!