Ulster Rugby call-up for Ballyclare pupil

Ballyclare High School pupil, Neeve Irvine has been selected for Ulster Rugby at U16 level for 7-aside rugby.

A Commonwealth Games and Olympic Sport, this variation of the 15-aside game is much faster with more space to attack and defend, challenging players to make more decisions in a shorter space of time.

Neeve will represent Ulster Rugby on April 23 and April 30 in Santry at the High Performance Centre.

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She said: “Ulster Rugby hosted an open Talent ID screening day for girls rugby sevens in mid-February. Mr McKeever told me I should go, but it clashed with hockey and dance, so I was unable to go. When we returned to school after half term, he told me he’d spoken to one of the Ulster coaches and they offered me the chance to attend a Saturday morning session. I was asked back for the next two and I have now been selected to the final squad for more training and then the interpro festival.

Neeve Irvine, with Mike Orchin-McKeever and Luke McIlwrath, who recently represented Ulster U18.

“My twin brother, Matthew, plays for the school so I would always watch and it seemed fun. The first time I played was in Year 9 in an Ulster Rugby Tag competition at the Valley Leisure Centre. Mr McKeever organised two sides and we had one team made up of only Year 9 girls. It was great fun. We didn’t’ get to play last year due to restrictions but this year returning to school after restrictions eased, Mr McKeever has had Rugby each week for us on a Thursday.”

Mike added: “I’m absolutely delighted for Neeve. She has a real superpower in her speed, agility and is a really good person. Her positive attitude, competitive drive and fun personality, all this makes an exciting combination to see when playing the game.

“Neeve only started playing rugby when joining Ballyclare High school at Tag Rugby Level and credits ‘trying’ rugby down to Mike Orchin-McKeever and her brother Matthew.”


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