A LOT has been made of the experienced spine to the Heriot’s Blues side this term, but newer players to the Goldenacre club have also made a big impact to help them into to second place in National League One.
With the Super6 taking away a lot of last year’s 1sr XV, ‘old’ heads like Stewart Mustard, Graham Wilson, Rory Carmichael, Craig Robertson and John Rae have been key as the Blues have transitioned into their new league. And players who joined in the summer, including hooker Danny Dineen and centre/full-back Oisin Quinn, have fitted in straight away to what Jamie Parker and his coaching group are looking to do.
Last weekend’s bonus point home win over Stirling Wolves leaves Heriot’s seven points behind league leaders Biggar with one final game before the Christmas break to come at fifth placed Cartha Queens Park this Saturday.
For 23-year-old Dineen, the 26-0 triumph over the Wolves was particularly special given that his brother Charlie was on the wing for the opposition.
“It was nice to be playing against him and eventually getting the win,” he said. “The first half was very tight and it was 0-0 at the interval, but once we got a couple of tries after the break we got into the swing of things.”
So, how did Dineen end up at Goldenacre?
“I started playing at Kirkcaldy until high school age and then I moved to Stirling County and played age-grade rugby there whilst I was at Dollar Academy,” he explained. “All of those different environments were good for me in different ways and then the next move was through to Glasgow to study at Strathclyde University. I played for the uni team and also played for West of Scotland for around three seasons.
“The uni rugby set-up was really good and I got quite involved there while West of Scotland was a great family club and the atmosphere around there was nice to be a part of.
“After I graduated in aeromechanical engineering during the summer, I managed to get a job through here in Edinburgh with Leonardo [who make systems for aircrafts] and I was thinking what club to join to continue my rugby. I spoke with Josh Laird who I had played with at Kirkcaldy and who has previously played for Heriot’s while my coach at West, Andy Douglas, also used to be involved at Goldenacre, and they both told me it would be a great club to join.”
To date the Blues have won 10 out of 13 league matches and are still in the Scottish Cup. “I have found things to be really good here. We are well coached in the Blues squad and I have enjoyed working with experienced guys like Stewart Mustard,” added Dineen.
“There is a big emphasis on a whole club ethos so that means that the Super6 squad, us, the 2nd XV players and the Women’s XV all have a meal together after training on a Thursday.
“There has also been a ‘bake off’ competition started to bring some light hearted competition between the squads. We won the first time around and were able to eat all the cakes, but we haven’t seen a cake since, so we will have to put that right in 2020!”
Quinn, 25, has been a regular performer in the backline since arriving in Scotland to work as a dentist in Bo’ness and continue his rugby journey back in the summer. He grew up in a small Northern Irish town called Magherafelt and went to school at ‘The Rainey’ locally before going on to play rugby for Rainey Old Boys.
“’The Rainey’ was a pretty big rugby school that feeds into the club and it was great to go on and play age-grade and senior rugby there,” he explained. “I then went to Belfast to study at Queen’s University and in my first couple of years there I played uni rugby before going back to Rainey Old Boys to play and we managed to have a bit of success, getting a couple of promotions and things are still going well there now. I will get back down to the club when I am home for Christmas and it will be great to catch up with everyone again.”
“There are a great bunch of lads at Heriot’s, I feel like I fitted in straight away,” Quinn added. “If you get on well off the field then I think it helps you create a team spirit on the pitch and I have enjoyed the challenges in National One with our squad including older and younger guys.
“In the games where we have really hit our straps we have managed to play some good stuff and score some well-worked tries so it is up to us to try and continue that going forward. Teams like Biggar and Highland have been doing really well while the other ‘Club XVs’ can really put in good performances on their day so there are certainly no easy weeks.”
Quinn knows that the trip to Dumbreck to play Cartha this weekend will be a tricky one. “They have had some good results, especially at home, while they won last weekend at Kelso so we certainly know we will need to roll our sleeves up and do a job for 80 minutes,” he said.
“We are all determined to sign off before the festive break with a win and we have been training hard this week to try and make it happen.”
- Cartha Queens Park v Heriot’s Blues takes place in Tennent’s National League Division One at Dumbreck at 2pm on Saturday