If you needed more evidence of the Leinster schools’ system influence at Ulster Rugby, then look no further than the lastest three players to sign contract extensions. Nick Timoney, David O’Connor and Greg Jones; Dubliners all, have signed on for more in Belfast.
The growing ranks of Leinster born players in Ulster has been a talking point in Irish rugby circles with outspoken Irish Independent pundit Neil Francis recently posing the question: “Why come to Ravenhill to support a whole load of Dubs who couldn’t make it in Leinster?”
Leaving tribalism aside, the truth is that the ruthlessly competitive Leinster schools system over-produces rugby talent and the IRFU would be foolish to let such talent go to waste.
Timoney has been a regular in Ulster match-day squads since arriving in the province in 2016. A former Irish Rugby Sevens international, the back-rower offers great speed and thrives at the breakdown. On signing a new two-year contract extension, Timoney, said: “I’m delighted to be a part of this team for another two years, and I’m eager to contribute to our continued hunt for silverware.”
Ulster Rugby Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said: “Nick has been playing some good rugby over the last number of weeks, showcasing his pace and power on both sides of the ball. He has worked hard on his game and I look forward to him continuing to do so over the next two years.”
Signed from Lansdowne RFC on a Development contract in 2019, 25-year old second row, David O’Connor, who is also at home in the back row, recently made his Heineken Champions Cup debut against Toulouse. He backed that up with his first European start when Ulster faced Gloucester a week later, in which he was the top tackler for the squad. On extending his contract for a further year,
O’Connor, said: “I’m delighted to be extending my contract at Ulster. To continue to be a part of such a great group of lads is something that is very exciting. Representing this special club, and my family, I will continue to give it my all.”
McFarland added: “It is a credit to Dave’s work ethic and determination that he has made the jump from club rugby to being full-time professional player. We look forward to continuing to help Dave develop his game.”
A handy looking team ?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 4, 2021
Completing the trio is 25-year old back-rower, Greg Jones. The Dublin native joined the Ulster Rugby Academy from UCD in 2017 and made his senior Ulster debut against Benetton in the same year. Playing a role in match-day squads throughout this season, Jones has already put in some notable performances against Connacht and Leinster recently.
The trio are part of a ten-strong Leinster schools’ rugby presence in Belfast.
Leinster raised players at Ulster
John Cooney, Greg Jones, Ian Madigan, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Eric O’Sullivan, Dave Shanahan, Nick Timoney
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