Former Ulster Rugby stars help to raise over £17k for Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke

Four greats of Ulster Rugby were guests at a charity event that raised vital funds for Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke. Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Chris Henry and Craig Gilroy were among more than 100 people who attended the lunch at Shu Restaurant,

It included a two-night stay at Lough Erne Resort, a painting by Belfast-based artist Mu Changyan, and tickets to future Ireland rugby and Manchester United matches.

More than £17,000 was raised for our charity by the event.

“Coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of premature deaths in people younger than 75 across Northern Ireland,” stated Jackie Trainor of NICHS. In keeping with our new plan to assist those in Northern Ireland affected by heart disease, the money raised from this event will be used to support the growth of our cardiac support services.

“Almost 90% of our income comes from public donations so fundraising efforts like this are vital for our charity and what we can achieve.”


Dave Ewers reveals his awe at Ulster’s power of youth amid injury crisis

So, it would appear that the young guns are firing.

Injuries have already plagued Ulster in 2023–2024, so you could have understood if they had been keen to clarify that everything has actually been an unfortunate turn of events.

However, there hasn’t really been a need for this hand wringing because the province hasn’t been undermined—quite the opposite.

Undoubtedly, they did suffer a defeat in Glasgow – their second and biggest setback of the 2023–24 season so far – but their relatively inexperienced back-row, including Development players Reuben Crothers and Harry Sheridan and Academy debutant James McNabney, gave more than creditable performances.

Ulster’s injury issues might have been enough to undo any squad, as Dan McFarland has had to dip rather more frequently than might normally have been the case into the province’s Academy to fill the gaps – prop Scott Wilson being just one of a number of young players who have been forced to step up – and yet the necessary fast-tracking process has been notably effective.

The situation in the back-row has been a case in point. With both Nick Timoney and new signing Dave Ewers

Having already fallen victim to injuries early in the 2023–24 campaign, Ulster has also used Lorcan McLoughlin, which means that three new players have made their debuts in addition to McNabney and Crothers.

Additionally, Ulster has given first caps to Academy colleagues Joe Hopes and Zac Solomon in addition to Wilson in various places. Ben Carson and Jude Postlethwaite have also been deployed, the latter making his Connacht debut, just outside the Academy building.

Sheridan, who was playing in just his 13th senior game on Saturday, was the most experienced player in McFarland’s starting back-row for Glasgow, which made it a most interesting position.

In fact, McNabney was experiencing professional rugby for the first time when he played at Scotstoun, while Crothers was only earning his third cap.

They were playing against three Scotland Test players who had all competed in the World Cup, as if that weren’t concerning enough.

Although it appeared to be a terrible mismatch, that wasn’t how it transpired.

The 20-year-old’s charge after a lineout turnover just eight minutes in set the tone for the rest of the game, as Sheridan contributed his customary high effort rate and Crothers pounded rucks all over the field in addition to recording 21 tackles.

The younger players seem resolute in their desire to seize their chances rather than avoid them, and Dave McCann, who is only 23 years old but has played in over 30 Ulster games, has been setting an example for the younger players with some truly outstanding performances.

An accomplished stage manager like Ewers, who may be injured and unable to play against Edinburgh, finds the attitude and way of thinking of the younger generation, well, eye-opening.

The back-rower from Zimbabwe who moved to the province from Exeter over the summer said, “They have been fantastic.”

“I give them my best.” When they arrive, you can notice that they are very inquisitive and questioning throughout the week. They also have a great regard for details and expectations.

“The level of professionalism they have exhibited, including their willingness to ask questions and provide results when necessary, has really surprised me.

“You can see by the way they are playing that they are aware of where they are and what they are doing. As a result, they are playing with precision throughout the week, which enables them to provide their best in the game.

He continued, “I’m really happy for them how they have played,” but it’s possible that the new addition is already watching him closely to ensure a starting spot. And the fact that the club has these young players developing for an exciting future is a true compliment to them.

Ulster needs to keep this fresh wave blazing and moving forward.

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