Local teenagers receive call-up to Irish u19 squad
Nine Ulster teenagers – five of them from Methodist College –have been named in the Ireland under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill next Saturday (2.30pm).
The Methody boys are Josh Bingham, Michael Lagan, Conor McKee, Alex Thompson and Stephen Weir, with Ulster's other representatives in the 25-strong panel being James Gallagher (Ballymena RFC), Jack Owens (Campbell College), Conor Young (Instonians RFC) and Ross Todd (Sullivan Upper).
In addition, though listed as an exile, Lorcan Dow is a Queen's University player.
The fact that Ulster are providing the biggest representation of the four provinces mirrors the work being done at this level in the north where Allen Clarke, Brian McLaughlin and Gary Longwell are making telling contributions.
Given their vast experience and know-how, the fruit of their labour comes as no surprise. Clarke was Mark McCall's assistant coach when Ulster last won silverware – the 2005-06 Celtic League –while McLaughlin famously guided the province to the 2012 Heineken Cup final in what was his last match as coach of the province's seniors before making the switch to work with young players in the hope of bringing them through as senior representative and international footballers.
Longwell – the third point in this all-important Ulster triangle – made 152 appearances for his native province, plus 26 for Ireland.
Leinster, Munster and Connacht have eight, four and three representatives respectively.
The seven from Leinster include a quintet from UCD – Ross Byrne, Billy Dardis, Sean McNulty, Josh Murphy and Gary Ringrose.
Tickets for next Saturday's game are available from the Ulster Rugby website, with prices ranging from £9 – £20 (adult) and those for children starting at £5. A saving of 15% is available for a family ticket (two adults and two children), with Ulster ticket season holders qualifying for a 10% discount.