The Deacy surname is prominent in the illustrious history of Galwegians, and now James Deacy is making his mark as one of the fourth generation of Deacys who have played for the Blues.

This season, James has captained the Men’s Seconds side to promotion back to the Connacht J1B League and silverware with the Curley Cup Shield. This makes for a great opportunity to sit down and chat with James to hear about being a Wegian.

The lineage of the Deacys goes back to the 1930s when Jack Deacy was one of the early captains for Galwegians. James’ grandfather Bobby was then heavily involved with the club and became President of the IRFU in 1996 right at the time when Irish rugby transitioned from amateur to professional structures.

However, James’ journey didn’t begin in Sky Blue. Instead, he started his playing days with Oughterard RFC since his father Norman was one of the leaders in expanding the footprint in the village on the edge of Connemara in 2004. The rugby development of James and his brother Rob coincided with the growth of the new club.

Those early days were reminiscent of earlier days in our city club, with training on pitches with no posts and limited club facilities they had.

“Back then it was real grassroots rugby,” said James. “Rocks were labelled with cones and there were no posts. All of our matches and blitzes were away. You had to want to be there, and love to be there to play”. 

James treasured his time at Oughterard, playing with his brothers throughout the ranks of youth rugby. He even won the Bobby Deacy Memorial Cup at U17s, which was established for matches between Oughterard and Galwegians in honour of his grandfather’s legacy. 

Oughterard has always retained strong links with Galwegians, so it was natural that James would move to Galwegians to play for the U18.5s in their Cup campaign.

One of the people to whom James says he owes much of his success to was academy coach and former player Morgan Codyre.

“The first hand I shook was Morgan’s and I owe a lot to him. The wealth of knowledge I got from him was massive as he coached me for four years. He knows the game inside and out, and he worked on me so much on kicking and passing. He played at Ten like myself and I learned so much from him.”

James also had the opportunity to learn from other players and coaches during his time with Galwegians, including Andrew Browne and Jarrad Butler who have an abundance of experience with Connacht. “I think it’s so good to have resources around you and be surrounded with people who really want you to get better and want you to succeed”.

James then got the opportunity to expand his abilities as a player by spending the last two summers in Canada playing for the Toronto Arrows Academy, one of the bedrocks of MLR in North America. 

Coming from a big rugby family, James also praises his family for the support he has been given growing up. His father Norman has been with James every step of the way from their beginnings in Oughterard to managing his first game at senior level for Galwegians. 

James also highlights his mother as a significant inspiration for his career and having done so much for him. 

“My mother has done so much for me. She would fly under the radar but even when we played in Oughterard, I remember a time when the pitch was closed and there were 18 lads training in our garden. When we came back inside, she fed every one of them and she has always backed us no matter what, making sure we were well fuelled”.

“She has been absolutely massive for me, and has always backed no more than my auld lad. The two of them just backed me the whole way if I wanted something done”. 

James’ first AIL cap against Bangor recently was a momentous occasion for his rugby career. He not only represented his club at senior level for the first time, but he also added to Galwegians history by playing alongside his brother Rob as one of only six sets of brothers that have played alongside each other for the First team.

James and Rob obviously developed their skills together from a very young age in Oughterard and played together throughout the youth age grades until they both joined Galwegians. They often played together as a scrum-half/fly-half combo as a fierce partnership, although Rob now plays in the centres.

“Having Rob outside me put me at ease when I got to come on for my AIL debut. With Andrew Sherlock at 9 and Rob at 12, it makes it so much easier once you play with lads that have been there with you for a long time”. 

“I have trained with this AIL senior squad for three years now. To be able to get an AIL cap alongside Rob is something that so many would love to do. I was very lucky to do it, especially in the fashion we did it”.

This season, James has been at the forefront of Galwegians Seconds success with an unbeaten run in the league phase of the J1C division and victory in the Curley Cup that doubled as his grandfather’s Memorial Cup match in the Sportsground. He has previously captained Galwegians sides at U18.5 and U20s, but to lead one of the adult squads was a huge honour.

“To captain any Wegians team is huge. I got to captain the U20s and I thought we were really successful. Many of those players went on to play and start in AIL. To captain the Seconds was huge, and it is a massive feeder system for the AIL. If you’re not playing on the Saturday, you are playing on the Sunday with the Seconds”. 

“This year, the Seconds has turned out to be a very club-oriented team. We had people come down from the Firsts to play, and there have been guys trying to get into the Firsts by grinding it out. The U20s are coming in if they aren’t getting game time and the Thirds have been giving us a dig-out. I think the Seconds have really brought the club together this year”. 

It is true that there have been many players from across the club that have contributed to the ambition of the Men’s Seconds this season. Players like Ronan Kennelly coming in from Connemara, Sam Feely, Nicky Lawless, and even head coach Brendan Guilfoyle who is still putting in a shift for the Blues at 39. Hugo Gens and Mike McColgan who play off the bench for the Firsts can still wake up every Sunday for the Seconds.

“The success definitely isn’t down to me as a captain, not at all.  I might just get to lift something at the end. It’s a 20-23 man game”.

It was a bitter blow for the Seconds to not get automatic promotion despite a flawless league campaign after their loss in a promotion play-off against Creggs RFC. But, true to their spirit, they dusted themselves off and came back to re-energise as a stronger unit in a redemption game against Corrib.

“We knew we were not a J1C team and we deserved to be in J1B. There were a few fragile men on Paddy’s Day after the Races on Friday, but the defensive set was massive. We went up to Corrib with sixteen men, and I don’t think you could fault anyone on the day. We were 7-0 down at half-time and everyone put their bodies on the line. We were able to seal the deal and I never met a set of players that deserved it more”. 

James is off to Canada next September to begin another chapter in his career. He is always keen to latch onto an opportunity when it arises and is looking forward to another journey abroad.

“I’m really enjoying the rugby I’m playing with the group of lads that I’m with now. I’ve made some great friends in Canada and I’m really excited to go back”. 

“Will  I stay there? God knows! I will be over there for a while but I have no doubt that I will definitely, definitely be back in a Wegians jersey in the future. Alongside Rob, again”.