Debutant Dow craves more Ulster action
As Lorcan Dow turned 21 last Wednesday, the young back-rower's plan for the weekend celebration was relatively straightforward.
He would be on bench duty for Ballynahinch in their crucial All-Ireland League game against Terenure in Dublin before travelling back to Belfast for the party planned to take place in his house.
What the London-born Queen's University psychology student didn't know, however, was that he and flatmate Jacob Stockdale would have to be late arrivals.
Both made their senior debut from the bench in Ulster's bonus-point win over Treviso at the Stadio Monigo on Saturday with Dow's ascension to the squad coming only after Nick Williams suffered a recurrence of a groin injury in the latter half of the week.
"I'm over the moon," he said of his first Ulster outing.
"It was a great experience getting on in the white jersey and obviously it was a great win as well for the boys.
"I got told pretty late on in the week. Finding out late was the challenge, just to get with the team. It was just a case of learning calls and listening to the senior guys.
"They were brilliant to be fair, the likes of Ian Humphreys and Franco van der Merwe kept me right."
Dow is Irish-qualified through his Londonderry mother - an actress who appeared on stage in both the Gaiety and the Globe when splitting time between Dublin and London - and was a virtual ever-present for the Irish Under-20s last year.
So far, this campaign has been spent between Ballynahinch and the Ulster 'A' side but he has now set his sights on keeping his place in the senior panel.
"I just want to do what I can to be involved in the squad," he said.
"There's big games every week so I just want to keep training hard and try to push for my place."
He did his case no harm in northern Italy, coming into the game with just under 20 minutes remaining and quickly making his presence felt.
Dow admits that, as Ulster toiled during the first-half before coming to life after the break, it initially looked like a tough game to make his debut in.
"I was praying we would get over the whitewash and get some momentum by the time I was on," he said.
"I just looked to carry. Clarkie (Allen Clarke) is always telling me to stick to my game and play with a positive attitude.
"It was just good to see the team come back in the second-half. It could prove significant.
"Les (Kiss) was saying at half-time this could be one of the biggest games of the season.
"It's obviously difficult coming off the back of Europe but it was great to get the bonus point at the end."