Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Author: Jamie Curley (Page 2 of 2)

Justin Wilson profile

Galwegians’ community has a wide variety of players, coaches and volunteers from every stretch of the world, and under-17s coach Justin Wilson is no different. Originally from New Zealand, he has quite a career in the world of rugby.

From the age of five, he started to take up the sport as rugby was one of the most prominent sports in the country. Passionate about the game, his first memories came from playing in the cold, frosty mornings at the back of his local rugby club where the sheep would graze the fields throughout the week. 

Playing for Waipukurau High School Old Boys and Central Sports Club for four years at the underage level, Justin took a hiatus from playing rugby and began travelling Europe with his best friend. Despite many years away, he would get the itch to play again once he reached his thirties.

Justin enjoyed his Galwegians playing career, being a part of the Thirds with some thoughts of moving up the ladder to the Seconds but opted against it. 

“I started playing for Wegians when I was 34 going on 35,” said Justin.  “A friend of mine was playing there at the time so told me to come down”.

Despite time away from the sport, he certainly hadn’t lost any of his skills by winning the Galwegians Thirds Player of the Year in 2015. After seven seasons with the squad, he stepped down from club rugby to pursue a coaching position in the club.

Having a young child rising through the ranks at Galwegians, it gave Justin the incentive to start coaching at the youth level, beginning at under 7s and currently managing the under 17s, and helping bring rugby back to schools across Galway like Callasanctius in Oranmore.

“I’m managing/coaching at the moment, mainly managing the under-17s. We have had eight players come over from Galway Bay last season, and we have quite a big squad now with 35 plus boys playing”.  

“We pulled a few players from Callasanctius secondary school, we had rugby starting up again there. It was a good thing for the rugby community to have rugby back in that school, they hadn’t played for five years.”

With three young sons, Justin will help bring these boys into little Wegians and could potentially coach them in the current youth setup sometime in the future!

Justin understands the importance of developing young players with proper coaching and guidance, learning from his own experiences and progressing through the tiers of youth rugby. Certainly a challenge as growing up, he didn’t receive the level of coaching in modern-day rugby.

“I’ve gone through the under 7s to the under 17s, I’ve every single age category. You get to see them progress from a young boy to a teenager. It’s very important to coach them the right way, not only with rugby skills but to make sure you are there for them in everyday life.”

“Some kids might come down to rugby and might not been having the best day or they might be having difficulties at home so that you can be there for them. On the rugby side of things, I enjoy teaching them what I have been taught, the basic skills and have a good understanding of how to play”. 

Even after stepping back from club rugby, Justin couldn’t shake off the urge to keep playing starting to play tag rugby. Taking a while to find his footing in the Irish rugby landscape, Justin played some tag rugby down at Corinthians, more as a social activity rather than anything serious.

 Stopping for a while when turning forty, he found a post on Facebook advertising a masters league with the chance to represent Ireland in tag rugby. 

Continuing to play in Corinthians and St. Marys, he played for the Galway’s over-forties team, taking on a Limerick side in Dublin. From there, he received an opportunity to play for the Irish over-fifties international side. 

Playing in the Irish side in the 2023 Tag Rugby World Cup, he ended up collecting a bronze medal in the over 50s category, which was an incredible achievement for Justin which goes to show you can never be too old to pick up and start playing! From playing tag rugby in his younger days in New Zealand, it has come full circle for Justin.

Rory Parata profile

It has been a journeyman’s career for Rory Parata, playing rugby across the world and still only 29. But Rory got his breakthrough at Galwegians and found himself playing for an immortal Connacht side which went on to win the Pro12 in 2016. 

Rory was born in Australia began his playing days in rugby league instead of union. That changed when he moved to Ireland at nine years old and started at Dolphin RFC in county Cork, although he struggled to enjoy rugby union at first because it was non-contact.

After transitioning to soccer for a few years, he eventually got the urge to come back and give rugby another chance with his friends. He made the jump and came into under 14s rugby with Sunday Well where he got his first taste of competitive rugby and it to a Munster semi-final. The team just fell short against Waterpark RFC. 

Rory then moved to Rockwell College to play senior cup rugby in his fifth year of secondary school, and broke into provincial rugby with his first cap in the Munster U-18s. Despite not getting called up to the Munster U-19 squad, he was offered the opportunity to join the Connacht Academy. 

“I had the option to play for Connacht U-19s,” said Rory. “I did quite well, and earned a cap for the Ireland U-19s. Then I had the decision to go to either Connacht or Munster academy, and I chose Connacht”.

“Then it was that decision of what club to go for in Galway. There were three obvious choices: Buccs, Corinthians or Galwegians. At the time, Galwegians were in AIL 2A although Buccs and Corinthians were 1B. But for me, Galwegians were the only club I knew in the area and had so much history behind it”. 

Rory was finally convinced by future team-mate Caolin Blade and his Galwegians career commenced, meaning that he played a part in adding to our history as part of the team that rose through the AIL ranks. Galwegians became one of the best sides in the province and Rory played a valuable part in bringing us into Division 1A at the top tier of AIL.

“It was some of the most enjoyable rugby I’ve played. Amazingly, we took it for granted and we made it from Division 2A to 1B and won 1B. I think at the time we just expected to win all the time, but looking back it was a massive achievement”. 

His efforts over the years in Galwegians earned him the opportunity to play for the Connacht senior squad for the first time in 2015. Rory remembers how surreal it was to finally achieve his goal of playing professional rugby as all of his hard work “came to fruition”. 

“I think there was a World Cup meaning that Robbie Henshaw was away. So you were looking at the pecking order and thinking you might be in with a shot here. Luckily the pre-season wasn’t a shock as I had the summer to get ready for the season”. 

Rory was one of several newcomers playing for Connacht for the first time in 2015 with Sean O’Brien, Peter Robb and Blade also breaking into the Connacht squad.

Never in their wildest dreams did they foresee what was coming as this Connacht side will live in the history books as winners of our province’s first ever major trophy, emulating the underdog success story of Leicester City from 2016.

This was a “freak scenario” in Rory’s eyes. “It was all our first years playing professional rugby and we were part of the squad that ended up winning the Pro12. It was the three or four days after the game that stick with me for the rest of my life. It was an unbelievable experience. I will never get the same buzz again!”. 

Rory went on to make 29 appearances for Connacht and scored 25 points across his three years at the club, before starting somewhat of a journeyman career.

This began as he briefly played club rugby in New Zealand alongside Ciarán Gaffney. The two seemed to be inseparable as Rory followed Gaffney to play for Zebre for a season before moving to the UK to play for Cornwall Pirates. He eventually bagged 96 caps across a five-year stint for the English side.

Finally, Rory has returned to his rugby roots in Ireland, playing in AIL Division 1A for Lansdowne RFC. He has made an immediate impact in the opening block of games, becoming the league’s leading try scorer including a hat-trick in the most recent game against Ballynahinch.

“Playing now is more about getting that enjoyment and remembering why you played rugby in the first place, which is quite nice. We are doing well at the moment, but we aren’t looking too far ahead because we have been lucky with fixtures”. 

“We are staying pretty grounded and looking at it as sets of blocks. We won our first set of three games and we have another set starting on Saturday. It’s a matter of not getting ahead of ourselves”.

Erc Dunne profile

Galwegian President Erc Dunne has enjoyed a long and illustrious career, spanning over five decades, starting as a young player bursting through the ranks to his current role as club president. We talked to Erc to discuss what an extraordinary legacy enjoyed here in Galwegians. 

Erc’s first venture into the world of rugby came as a young boy playing in Newcastle, which was steadily growing at the time. A group of parents had organised different sports in the Franciscans for under-nines to get stuck into some activities.  

It was a very unique experience as Erc remarked about the lack of a clubhouse or any general facilities but just playing on an isolated pitch on a Saturday morning with an unusually shaped rugby ball. 

So once Erc joined Galwegians in 1974 and made the trip to Renmore for training, he was blown away by the sheer wonder of the establishment. Recalling approaching the gates with big plumes of smoke in the background, this experience kickstarted his love for the game. 

“Driving up towards the clubhouse, it was the most incredible thing because suddenly, it was a huge change from running to a field. Now you had a place with changing rooms, showers, and a huge bath inside.”

“It was then a case of seeing these big guys, adults, running onto the pitch and training. I suppose from there it ignited a passion that I never had before for rugby. Just to see how it was organised, to see players in the sky-blue jersey, to get the little blue membership book when you joined the club.”

The fine details stuck out for Erc, with this membership being a sense of belonging in Galwegians, feeling that he was part of something important. It was an exciting time to be united with all his friends and be around a variety of coaches. This book would be a memento that would stay with Erc for all his life as a Wegian. 

A particular memory that Erc remembers fondly from his underage days, was when the former Ireland captain Johhny Moloney came down to Galwegians playing for St Mary’s. Starstruck to meet one of his heroes, he asked for an autograph only to his shock to be refused. 

“I remember this knocked me, but he did ask me to write my name and address on a piece of paper and leave it at the goalpost. I did it and went home dejected after being knocked back like that.”

“The following February in the post, I didn’t receive Johhny Moloney’s autograph, I received the whole Irish rugby team’s autograph on the back of a menu. The gentleman had gone and not only sent me his autograph but the whole Irish rugby team”.

For a young child and to receive such a priceless piece of memorabilia, Erc viewed it as a token of inspiration. He knew that when he grew up, he thought about what he could do to inspire other children, who are coming into rugby. 

“I have always tried to say to people, help at some stage in the youth academy. Do something when kids will go and say, ‘I want to be like that’. That would be one thing that would stick out for me in my younger days”.

Erc treasured those Saturday mornings as a young child as some of the fondest memories of his time in Galwegians, realising how this rugby club would become a “second home” for him. 

“You do create a bond with your friends, you are part of something bigger. You feel like it is part of your home. Even after living in London for ten years, Galwegians would always be my club”. 

“That feeling was instilled by the different coaches I had, a passion for the sky blue. I guess that it seeped into my inner being, I am a Galwegian, I have always been a Galwegian, and I always will be a Galwegian.”

Finishing his playing career in 1988, Erc took a step into the world of coaching. After returning to Galway after a stint in London, he received a phone call from the late Joe Dunne, who informed Erc that he would be taking charge of the U20s. 

With a demand for coaches at underage level, Erc took the position and started working on his coaching badges. Trying to comprehend how the game evolved and the challenge of transitioning from playing the game to management, was a learning cycle. 

Taught by coach Eric Elwood, Erc learned the basics and foundations of coaching and the fundamentals behind safety and skills at the youth level. Erc understood the significance behind nurturing this young talent into the next generation and thinking beyond today’s game. 

“You are overseeing the development of what hopefully will be the oak tree of tomorrow, you are planting the seed of passion that may make the transition into not only senior club rugby but maybe Connacht or something bigger.”

One of the greatest achievements throughout Erc’s time in Galwegians came during his time as Director of Rugby in 2013. Asked to take on the role by Billy Quinn, it was a huge responsibility to put on someone’s shoulders. 

Taking on the advice of former directors of the past and learning from their experiences, how they evolved in their roles and laid down the foundations of what the club needed. One of his first appointments came with awarding Corey Brown the role of head coach.

“I suppose you could look at my role as ensuring we had a coach, agreeing on key performance indicators with that coach, what is your plan, how do you see that plan taking us to where we need to be.”

“Where I thought we needed to be was developing our players, stabilizing ourselves and making sure we weren’t relegated and bring Corey in and looked at where we were and how we could strengthen what we had.”

Silverware was not the primary ambition at first, but rather looking towards recruitment and ensuring the steady development of everyone in the squad. Utilizing all the contacts are their disposal to strengthen their side, Erc spearheaded the process to bring depth and strength in numbers.

Erc steered the club towards the upper echelon of AIL rugby, leading Galwegians all the way from Division 2A to 1A in the space of a few short years. Laying the groundwork for success for the club, it stands out as an almighty accomplishment for the club.

In 2020, Erc became club president for the first time which obviously in unprecedented times with the pandemic. It was certainly a great challenge to take the role in a time when the world was in disarray and with not much to be done pitch side.

“I think it did harm our development a little bit. But because there was nothing we could do on the pitch; it was a case of pushing the club forwards with fundraising. We did become very active with the Our Club, Your Country initiative, and I think it was the first time we exceeded the €10,000 mark.”

“When you didn’t know when Covid was going to stop when everything was going to be opened again, it’s hard to plan anything else. It was really a case of keeping the club going into the future and hoping doors opened again.”

But the club persevered, and now the future is the focus for Galwegians as they look to climb up the ladder towards the top tiers of club rugby once again. Despite Division 2C not being their “natural environment”, there’s hope that they can carry their early season momentum forward. 

“Momentum this time of the season is really a case of making sure that the lads are focused and keeping their heads up.  Looking at the team and looking at their attitude to training and going out at the pitch, I have no doubt this is going to be a good season”.

“To be honest, the most important thing this season is stabilizing. Ensuring that we build and continue to come together as a team, develop the skills, and go out and play the game not thinking down the road, but just thinking about that game. Ensuring we take our wins and maximise our points and we will be back to where we should be”.

Guilly runs ruler over AIL start

Head coach Brendan Guilfoyle reflects on an excellent start to the season where Galwegians have won their opening three games of the season in AIL Division 2C.

Despite a turbulent pre-season in the Connacht Senior League where they picked up only a 8-8 draw against Ballina, Brendan remarks how they have bounced back in their opening fixtures:

“Although we were quite positive (ahead of the season), I think the first block of AIL fixtures have gone as well as we could have wanted, “said Brendan. “It was better than some people may have expected.”

“We as coaches were quite confident with the quality we had coming in and thankfully a lot of the new guys have delivered which really complimented the homegrown guys that were already here for the last couple of years”. 

Last season saw Galwegians struggle at set-pieces, especially in the line-outs and the scrum. Strong recruitment with forwards have been pivotal with the additions of foreign talent such as Garyn Daniel, Hugo Gens and Jesse Va’asuaga, while transitioning current players into new positions.

The forwards have excelled so far in the first three rounds with the maul proving to be effective with Brendan stating that they scored a maul try for the first time in a few seasons and have manged one for every game so far alongside “huge scrum stability and scrum dominance”. 

“The inclusion of Garyn Daniel at tighthead has made a huge difference with the scrum but also Jack Winters who as back row last year, now at loosehead since half-way last year. The two of them have come on massively and have played eighty minutes in all three games so far, which has been massive stability for the rest of the team”.

“You have Oisin Halpin and Rob Holian who have come into the second row, which has been a huge addition. As well the back row, Jesse has come in from New Zealand. The inclusion of Hugo too, who has come in from France to improve his English, you have a really formidable pack”.

The rise in form in the forward pack has consequently has also seen a substantial increase in performance in the back-line, with an injection of youth and experience. With many stars with the backs, Brendan has found it hard to single just one player with them firing on all cylinders.

“Tiarnan Neville has come in at out-half, has brought a lot of energy and direction. He’s great, full of confidence at out-half. Mikey McGiff has come in for six months, some experience and a lot of communication on the field”.

“We also had some of our Connacht lads which is always good; Shane Mallon who played with us last year and was very good has continued in the same vein.  Finn Tracey who has moved from Leinster to  the Connacht academy, both have performed really well”. 

Brendan has praised the new players for gelling into the team quickly, along with the youth players rising through the ranks, with five U20s playing in the recent game against Clonmel. 

Making sure the team doesn’t stay complacent in their group of fixtures, the whole team will be looking to fix niggling issues in the team.

“It has been far from perfect, a lot still to work on. Clonmel especially we felt we were really off our game in some aspects. But the difference this year was that grit we had that pulled through and ensured we got a victory when we weren’t performing”. 

Looking ahead to their next game against third-placed Bruff RFC, Galwegian will be looking to secure another victory at the peak of the division and secure revenge over the side that relegated them last year.

Paul Hackett profile

Paul Hackett had been a long-serving player of Galwegians. We sat down with him recently to hear him reflect and take a brief look back on his rugby career to date.

One day when Paul was nine years old, a group of Galwegians players came back from playing a rugby tournament in London and visited his primary school. Seeing them with glittering silverware and medals around their necks inspired Paul and inspired him to get involved in the world of rugby.

“I thought it was amazing that they were coming back from playing rugby in London. That gave me the bug to take up rugby”.

Paul followed his friends and started playing underage rugby for Galwegians. He used his skillset from GAA to transition to rugby and felt that the oval ball sport “came more naturally to me”. He just fell in love with the sport and the rest has been history.

Paul has achieved no small amount of success in his time during his time with Galwegians. The first major success was the U17 All Ireland Final on the back of an undefeated streak. “I look back at that year fondly. You have so many friends that you grew up with. Tt was a moment when boys became men”.

Another achievement for Paul was being a part of the Galwegians side that made it all the way to AIL Division 1A and the top tier of Irish club rugby. “It was a huge honour to be part of that team. It will always stay in the back of my mind”.

Paul rates his team mates through the years as a constant source of inspiration and motivation to improve as a player and reach the next level himself.

“You get inspired by your friends and the players around you. How much hard work they are putting in, and what they are achieving in life. You take all these little things about what they are doing. That’s what you get your inspiration from”.

Paul is currently in Dublin and, despite being retired from rugby, Paul admits he still has the urge to come back and put on his boots to get back in action. He is contemplating getting his coaching badges, but would like to get some more games under his belt before pursuing coaching.

“I ended up buying a new pair of boots a while back so I might have to start playing a small bit of rugby here in Dublin, I’m getting itchy feet. I don’t know how the people in Galway would feel about that, but I might do a small bit of playing before going back to coaching!”.

Paul has some experience coaching in Galwegians, after mentoring the U20s two years ago to get a feel of it.

Having progressed through the youth ranks to senior rugby, he knows that these young players are the next generation of Wegians and wants to give his expertise with an emphasis on “hard work and learning from your mistakes”.

“I wanted to give back to the club, and the way you do that is coaching and helping the younger players. Giving the knowledge you learnt back to them is extremely rewarding. There were volunteers that helped me along the way along with thousands of other players. So I want to help. It’s such a small yet rewarding thing to do. I was happy to do it.”

Paul is confident that Galwegians can go the way this season. The Sky Blues might be 100 years old but they aren’t going to be slowing down any time soon. He wishes the club all the best for the season ahead.

Meet Our Coaches: Shane O’Brien

The AIL Division 2C season is nearly upon us and Galwegians are set to begin their fight for promotion against Tullamore this Friday. Ahead of the new season, we talked to assistant coach Shane O’Brien, who’s looking forward to the challenges that come with a brand-new campaign. 

Joining the coaching staff last summer, Shane has a wealth of experience to offer for this Galwegians side. Originally coming from a GAA background, Shane took up rugby at a young age playing for Crescent College in Limerick, a school with rugby built into its DNA and from there, his rugby career blossomed:

“When I hit sixteen or seventeen, I think I knew I wanted to stay involved in rugby more, and then I came out of school, I started training as a U20 and that’s how it really took off. It really started becoming more and more of a first love for me”, he said.

Shane was part of the set-up for Young Munster RFC when he received the opportunity to join the coaching staff here in Galway. Relishing at the challenge, he accepted the post which has been part of our coaching set-up. 

Throughout his time in Galwegians, he reflects on the trials and tribulations of being a coach and the pressures of the job. A teacher by trade, he faces the obstacles of balancing work and sport and being there for the club:

“At the moment, I’m finding that teaching is my second job and rugby is my first job. All Ireland League coaching isn’t just two hours on a Tuesday and Thursday and a four-hour day on Saturday.”

“It’s a full-time job between your video review on a Monday, phone calls throughout the week, and making sure all your players are enjoying it or if they are having things in life troubling them, you can be a guide and be open enough to talk.”

The responsibilities that are given as a coach compared to a player drastically differ and it is no different in Shane’s role stating that “you take it home a little bit more as a coach”.

“As a player, you can have a bad performance but you can go to training and try to rectify it. Whereas a coach, you always wonder when you’re going into a Saturday, have you prepped everything enough, have you looked at the opposition enough?”. 

“Have you changed the shape of play you wanted to tweak, have you gotten the message across to the players? As a player can go on instinct, as a coach you have to rely on the message you give mid-week, sometimes you can overthink things a little bit”. 

With a new crop of players this season ready to show their hunger and capability out on the pitch, the team is well-prepared for the season’s opening fixture, with the boys training regularly and sticking to a regular gym routine. Shane remarks about the importance of a positive mindset ahead of the first few games of the campaign. 

Stating that winning the first few games would be key and would definitely “shake a few monkeys off our back” after relegation last season and would provide the confidence needed to take the new year into their stride:

“I think that there’s a little bit of added pressure this year because of the division that we are in. But I think we need to welcome it, the squad that is here this year has the ability to get out of this league with no problem.”

It’s been a busy pre-season for Galwegians as they are building up towards the trip away at Spollanstown, but it wasn’t optimal as the team hoped it would be with a turbulent Connacht Senior League campaign in comparison to last year

But Shane is assured that there is a consistent improvement from this senior side as a series of friendlies have seen their side grow in confidence. 

“There have been six matches between the Connacht Senior League and friendlies, and think we have improved every week which is the most important thing, we showed a lot against Cashel, a decent AIL 2A side, so I’m hoping we can bring some confidence into this very tough game Friday night”. 

“The first goal will be to get into the top 4, then become the team to beat afterward. When you win more games, you become more confident so they can never know what could happen then once you are going into the playoffs”.

Tullamore will be fierce competition for this Galwegians side who narrowly missed out on promotion to Division 2B last season. Shane knows they cannot be underestimated and will be the first major test for their own promotion ambitions.

“We have a very tough start, Tullamore lost only one game all season so it will be tough on Friday. Not only them but Clonmel are a very strong side too we play them early on too. The first few games will be the main focus on try and get as many points as possible”. 

“But in terms of confidence, I have definitely seen it grow as the summer has gone. In the last few weeks, we have seen a bit of a mindset change, players have taken real ownership at training in different aspects”. 

Best of luck to Shane and the whole Galwegian squad this weekend ahead of their first game of the season against Tullamore.

Meet Our Squad: Garyn Daniel

Ahead of this upcoming season for Galwegians, the roster has been bolstered with a series of talented individuals ready to give it their all in 2023. 

Our latest recruit comes all the way from Wales with prop Garyn Daniel ready to make an impact here in Galway. With a wealth of experience in the Welsh Premiership, we talked about his career to date and how he’s looking forward to life here in Ireland. 

Garyn’s career began in the small town of Treorchy, located county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, around 40km away from the capital of Cardiff. It was here where he began playing sport as a youngster but transitioned from football to playing rugby union, making use of his stature:

“I started playing football as a big center-back when I was eleven and my dad said, ‘You’re too big for football, you should play a bit of rugby’”. 

From there onwards, Garyn began playing for underage level for Treorchy RFC, nicknamed the Zebras, boasting a few players who have gone on to play for their country at international level and even hosted Fiji during a tour of Wales in the 90s. Garyn progressed through the ranks of Treorchy, making it all the way to the senior team and securing a move to Premiership side Pontypridd RFC, making 20 appearances for the side. 

Arriving in Galwegians recently, he’s eager to bring his expertise to the Blues with a great deal of flexibility to his style of play, having the opportunity to play in a variety of positions during his career: 

“While I am a prop, I would like to think I’m fairly mobile. Back when I was about 24, I transitioned from number eight to the front row, because we didn’t have enough front rows on the team”.

Garyn talks about the importance of mentality and having a positive outlook on the game, as he looks to demonstrate his abilities throughout the field on the offensive and maintaining composure in the set pieces:

“Definitely mindset is important, thinking quite positively and making sure we are all heading in the right direction. Hopefully, I can be of help in the set-pieces as a prop, and my carrying and tackling”.  Be sure to keep an eye out for Garyn at the forefront of the scrummage!

When you look at the character of Garyn, he attributes this to his family and labels them as his inspiration growing up. Not only did they introduce him into the world of rugby, but he explained how they were the primary influence on how he was brought up. 

“It might be a bit cliché but it would be my family, I was raised by my parents and my grandparents, who I spent a lot of my time with growing up. They are a big aspect of why I do what I do and if I were ever in a dark place, I would stick with my family”. 

Even though home is far apart, there seems not to be too much of a difference between Wales and Ireland in some aspects, particularly the climate, for better or for worse! But the frenetic lifestyle of Galway has caught Garyn’s attention and the busy nature of the city definitely doesn’t compare to the valleys back home. 

“Everybody seems super super relaxed, they seem to be very laid-back and relaxed. I’ve now found myself caught in what I’ve figured out to be the very famous Galway traffic a couple of times which surprised me a little! But I’m very lucky everything I need is very close together so it’s not the end of the world”. 

But the primary focus for this year and for this campaign is to secure promotion and Garyn is looking to do whatever is possible to bring Galwegians success in the AIL Division 2C league and back to where they belong in the upper echelon of club rugby:

“I always had aspirations to work towards promotion for the club, I’m aware that there has been a few relegations over the last couple of years, but the club sees itself higher than what it is right now. I want to make a big enough impact to make sure we achieve promotion this year, anything else would be a failure in my eyes”. 

With our game of the AIL Division 2C season coming on the 6th of October, we wish Garyn the very best for this year and be sure to make him welcome here in Galway.

Womens AIL Preview

Galwegians’ Blue Belles are almost ready to begin their 23/24 season with a showdown against Ballincollig at home in Crowley Park this Saturday at 17:00. The women are looking to continue their success from last year, progressing to two finals including victory in the AIL Women’s Plate Cup against Blackrock College back in April. 

We reached out to the coaching staff for this season, David Clarke and Nicole Fowley, and talked about the upcoming season and the preparation undertaken ahead of their match on Saturday.  With a mix of fresh faces keen to showcase their abilities and experienced veterans demonstrating the experience they have to offer, they are ready for the challenges that lay ahead this season.

“A new season, a lot of new faces and some old faces hopefully reappearing in the next weeks. The girls have put in a lot of conditioning work over the summer and are ready to hit the ground running this Saturday”.

Preparation for the season ahead is a key priority as the game of rugby continues to evolve year on year focusing on growing stronger as a unit. The coaching staff have used the pre-season to remodel their style of play and put themselves in a prime position to be contenders this year. 

“We have adapted our style of play to meet our strengths. We have a lot of technical areas in our play and so our focus is going to be on consistency and execution”. 

Galwegians have been very fortunate to have many players come up through the ranks who have gone to play in interprovincial rugby for Connacht and represent their country. This leaves another challenge for the team with the dilemma of player selection but David and Nicole understand their responsibilities to make sure they have a wealth of players for selection.

“It is going to be a demanding season for our players with representation going to Ireland camps and Interprovincial. It is our duty as coaches to ensure our systems are aligned across Galwegians women’s rugby so the next player can easily step up when required”.

Silverware won’t be the only ambition in sight for Galwegians’ women this season, with one eye toward the future and ensuring that the players have the groundwork they need to achieve their maximum performance.

“The goal for this season is to focus on long-term recruitment, develop our existing players, and give them the structures they need to play at the highest of levels”. 
Reminder that the first match of the season is at home in Crowley Park on Saturday 16th September so be sure to come down to cheer on our Blue Belles!

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