By Peter O’ Dwyer
There will be a hint of the GAA on show tonight at Castle Avenue when Clontarf host the world-famous Barbarians in a rugby game commemorating the Battle of Clontarf.
The Baa’Baas are in town to take on the Dublin north-siders in a game being dubbed the ‘Real Battle of Clontarf’ and among the colours on show will be those of St Laurence O’ Tooles GAA club.
Peter Synnott, who currently plays for Esher in the third tier of English rugby, is a former representative of both Clontarf and O’ Tooles and has chosen to wear the socks of his beloved GAA club instead of those of Esher.
While the Barbarians always line out in the same black and white hooped jersey with black shorts, the tradition is that each player can wear socks of his choosing – usually those of his current club.
Synnott, however, has decided against donning the colours of his London-based side in favour of showing his hurling allegiances instead.
At under-14 level, Synnott lined out alongside current inter-county stars David Treacy, Peter Kelly and Paul Schutte before rugby took precedence in his sporting life at Belvedere College.
With the oval ball the flanker was also in illustrious company, sharing a pitch with the likes of London Irish’s Eamon Sheridan and Leinster duo Ian Madigan and Jack McGrath for the province’s school and under-20 teams.
Now plying his trade semi-professionally in the English National League One, Synnott was also a standout performer for his school as a tough-tackling backrow with a penchant for splitting the posts as the side’s place-kicker.
Perhaps his finest moment in the famed Belvedere jersey was when he kicked the winning penalty from his own half to beat St Mary’s in the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup final.
Synnott is part of a Baa’Baas squad that also includes Old Belvedere duo Danny Riordan and Philip O’ Dwyer, Cork Con’s William Ryan and Young Munster and Munster hooker Ger Slattery.
In total, five internationals will line out for the world-renowned composite in tonight’s game refereed by Nigel Owens, including Exeter Chiefs and former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney.
Danny Riordan and Philip O'Dwyer (both Old Belvedere), Jason Shoemark (Exeter), Tom Cheesman (Esher), Fraser Harkness (Selkirk), Ceri Sweeney (Exeter and Wales), James Grindal (Bristol), Lorne Ward (Rosslyn Park), Ger Slattery (Young Munster), Ben Evans (capt) (Moseley and Wales), Mike Powell (Moseley), Haydn Pugh (Carmarthen Quins), Dean Schofield (Worcester and England), Charlie Butterworth (Lansdowne), William Ryan (Cork Constitution), Rob Ellaway (Cornish Pirates and Germany), Colm McMahon (St Mary's College), Andrew Jones (Llandovery), Mark McCraith (Bedford Blues), Peter Synnott (Esher), Ryan De La Harpe (Fylde and Namibia), Richie McMaster (Queens University), Bryan Rennie (Bristol).
Hat-tip: @SLawrenceDawson of GrassRootsGAA