Disappointing result today Sunday 26th Feb at Connemara RFC Monastery Field where we lost 12 points to 10 against Ballina. Leading 10-0 at half time. Ballina with the elements in their favour fought back to score two tries one converted to clinch the win.
#Connemara are through to the next round of the Connacht Junior Cup through thanks to a 15-12 victory away to Sligo.
After a tough season, a few injuries and a challenging schedule, not to mention the difficulty of trying to coordinate training some lads in Clifden and some in Oughterard, the U15’s Connemara all blacks finished top of the league table. This secured them a home semi-final against Tuam/Dunmore.
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After a slightly sleepy start, the all blacks managed to secure a win through a brilliant defensive effort, keeping out a very determined Tuam/Dunmore side and earn a well deserved place in a final against a tough Loughrea side.
The final was set to be played on neutral ground and the venue was named Tuam RFC…..a mere 2 hour drive away!!
We loaded the lads onto the bus and set off to face a 24 strong Loughrea squad hungry for victory. The weather was cold but dry and unfortunately the pitch was very mucky after the U18.5’s final was played just before us.
This didn’t put our lads off and if anything, it made the all blacks more determined.
The match started with us being pushed right back onto our own line and spending about five minutes defending hard to keep Loughrea out. Then we got a line break through some great team work and managed to get up to the halfway mark. Quite a bit of time was spent in this area and again through some consistent and solid team work, our lads managed to break through and draw first blood with a solid try putting 5 points on the scoreboard.
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The hard work continued and it resulted in a second try in the first half.
The second half kicked off and yet again, Loughrea came at us with everything in the tank. There were a few nervy moments when it looked like Loughrea might get some points on the board, but again, through some Trojan work from the forwards and some brilliant lines from the backs, the all blacks managed to get another try on the scoreboard.
The lads held out for the rest of the game despite a late surge from Loughrea.
The final whistle sounded much to the delight of our lads. After all the hard work for the season and after finishing top of the league, the lads had won the final.
It was fantastic to see the pride and joy this brought to the whole team and we are extremely proud of the lads for the way they have conducted themselves through the whole season.
Their manners, etiquette and discipline has been excellent throughout and they really deserve their victory.
Well done to everyone involved and we are looking forward to the next game in the cup competition.
Club Focus: All Blacks of #Ireland keen to be best in west
Breakthrough internationals setting the example for Connemara RFC’s players of the future, writes #CiaránMcGreal
#ConnemaraRFC #AllBlacks #Rugby #Connemara #Clifden
Despite Connemara RFC’s remote location, the club’s proposed developments will ensure it will not be forgotten any time soon.
It may well be ‘next stop New York’ when you look west from their base in Clifden, but the club’s recent purchase of land will lead to improved facilities which will hopefully see a swell in playing numbers.
President Peter Keane has been involved in various capacities since the late 1970s and he feels securing their home patch of land has led to a great feeling of excitement in the club.
“We’ve just completed the purchase of 10.5 acres of land from the Franciscan Brothers. That’s literally only been done in the last month. It’s exciting times at the moment,” says Keane.
“We plan to build a second pitch and a training area. We’ve only the one pitch at the moment and everybody is training and playing on that. Our plan after that is for additional facilities over time. There’ll be improvements made to our existing clubhouse as well.
“There’s a 5km walk around the land so we’re looking at putting in a walkway right around the pitch as well. The plan is that people will use the area.
“We have probably more land than we need so we’re going to look at ways of utilising it to make a bit of money from it and keep the club going.”
The finer details of the deal are still being ironed out but the club hopes the new facilities will enable the club to further enhance its relationship with the local sporting talent.
Clifden Community School is being redeveloped at the moment and Keane feels the rugby club’s own works will help provide a sporting facility for the school’s increased roster.
“There’s a couple of things to be finalised with the Revenue and all that. We’re hoping to have a plan in for the Capital Sports Fund.
“The new community school is being built at the moment and we’re hoping to tap into that talent. There’s always been a good relationship with the school so we’re hoping to nurture that a bit more.”
The club was formed in 1974 but rugby in Connemara dates back as far as the 1920s when employees from the Marconi communication station in Clifden took up the sport. In the 1940s, children from the area who were attending rugby schools in Dublin wanted to continue playing the sport during the school holidays. They assembled a team and they took on Corinthians on St Stephen’s Day in 1946. The game ended 6-6.
Connemara’s senior side play in the Connacht Junior 1A league and the team lie second in the table. Henry O’Toole and Bernard Keaney handle the coaching of the team and their charges have won eight of their ten league games to date.
Ballina currently sit top of the pile and the Mayo side will visit Clifden at the end of the month in what promises to be an enthralling contest with Connemara. The teams have met twice already this season and Connemara hold the bragging rights. In the league, Connemara won 17-13 and in their Junior Cup clash two weeks ago they repeated the trick as they overturned their hosts 22-18.
Next up for the Galway side in the Junior Cup is a trip to Sligo RFC this Sunday at 2pm. This weekend will also see Connemara’s U-15 side in action in the final of the Connacht U-15 Development League as they take on Loughrea tomorrow.
The club’s senior side previously played in the All-Ireland League after securing promotion in 2001. Unfortunately, the team was relegated to the Connacht Junior League in 2013 but the team didn’t spend too long licking its wounds as Connemara secured a league title, the Cawley Cup and the Connacht Plate in their first season back in junior rugby.
Connemara’s minis section runs from U-8s to U-12s while the club also fields youth teams at U-14, U-15 and U-18.5 level.
Boys and girls both play in the minis but the club do not have a girls’ youth team at the moment. The committee hope this changes with the increased interest in the women’s game.
Ireland women’s head coach Tom Tierney recently named his squad for the Six Nations and Connemara native Mairead Coyne is one of seven Connacht players in the squad. Coyne plays her club rugby with Galwegians and Keane feels she is a great role model for Connemara’s underage stars. “We can tell our players that if you put in the work, you can get there.”
Coyne isn’t the only international linked with the club. Connacht Tiernan O’Halloran played underage with Connemara and has since gone on to win full Irish honours. The full-back is a key member of Connacht’s team and is one third of the team’s much-heralded back three along with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy.
All three players have been capped for Ireland on the back of Connacht’s Pro12 glory last season with O’Halloran winning his first cap on Ireland’s tour to South Africa last summer.
O’Halloran will hope to see some Six Nations action in the coming weeks after being named in Joe Schmidt’s 40-man squad for the opening rounds of the competition. O’Halloran’s father, Aidan, serves as chairman with Connemara and the Offaly native had the honour of being named president of the Connacht Branch back in 2012.
Leinster prop Oisín Heffernan also began his career with Connemara. Heffernan represented Ireland in the U-20 World Championship in the summer and scored a try in Ireland’s famous win over the All Blacks in the competition in Manchester. Having started his rugby journey with the Connemara All Blacks, Heffernan can claim to have scored for and against the All Blacks!
Incidentally, Connemara didn’t get their nickname from their New Zealand counterparts but rather from a fishing fly called the Connemara Black.
With the likes of Mairead Coyne, Tiernan O’Halloran and Oisín Heffernan to look up to and new facilities to look forward to, Connemara RFC are well set up to continue producing talented players despite the club’s limited catchment area.
Address: Monastery Field, Clifden, Co Galway.
President: Peter Keane
Head coach: Henry O’Toole
Captain: Barry Gibbons