Cooney gets chance with Irish call-up
Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has had his fine form for the province this season belatedly rewarded with an Ireland call-up.
The 27-year-old arrived at Kingspan Stadium last summer and has been a revelation in Belfast, filling the void left by Ruan Pienaar's controversial departure to Montpellier.
Capped once before - against Japan in Tokyo last June - the former Leinster and Connacht man's fine performances had not seen him crack Joe Schmidt's squad for either the November internationals or the first two rounds of the Six Nations.
However, injury to Leinster's Luke McGrath in his side's win over Scarlets on Saturday left the coach with only two nines in camp to prepare for this weekend's clash with Wales in Dublin (2.15pm kick-off).
He will now battle with former Connacht team-mate Kieran Marmion for the back-up role to Conor Murray. Ulster hooker Rob Herring has dropped out of the squad through injury.