Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Author: Gadmin (Page 2 of 9)

Get to know Jack Winters

Where are you from?

Cong Co. Mayo (Born in New York)

When started playing rugby?

Ballinrobe RFC from minis up to captaining the first team.

When first joined Galwegians? 

In 2010, I played U19s for Galwegians (see photo above). I then played Senior in 2017-18 for the season and fully rejoined after being away travelling and after Covid in 2021.

Tell us about your family? 

I’m the eldest of five. My parents and Hazel are in Cong, Leila is in Perth, Neil and Grace are in San Francisco.

What is your career outside rugby? 

I am a Packaging Engineer in Zimmer Biomet, Oranmore.

What positions do you play? 

Loosehead prop. I was a backrow until an injury crisis at the beginning of last season. Anything for the team!

Biggest influence on career? 

My parents and fiancée Niamh have been there for all the highs and lows. 

Toughest opponent ever? 

Paul Hackett in a “non-contact” drill.

Best team-mate ever played with? 

Delighted to have my former Ballinrobe teammate, Rob Holian, join us this season from Sligo RFC.

Hobbies? 

I love to travel, we are hoping to do a safari in Tanzania for our honeymoon next year.

Favourite band/music? 

Christy Moore

What does being club captain mean to you? 

It is an incredible honour to captain such a historic club, filled with fantastic people from our minis, underage, mens and womens sides to all the volunteers and coaches who make it possible. I strongly believe the tide is turning and the good times are coming back to Galwegians!

Hopes or aspirations for the year? 

I’m very excited to see what this group of players can achieve at both Senior and Junior level this season. Our goal is promotion on both fronts!

Youth Academy Awards 2023

A wonderful night of prize giving for our youth Girls and Boys teams last evening.

The awards were presented by our special guest of honour Hugh Gavin who was a member of the Ireland U20 Grand Slam winning team. Hugh started rugby in Galwegians at 5 years of age, and played senior rugby for the club this season in between training and appearing for Connacht Eagles and the Ireland U20’s.

Club President Frank Kinneen presented Hugh with a trophy from the club in honour of his achievement, and Youth rugby director Mickey Sherlock presented a framed photo to Hugh.

Frank and Hugh also presented the awards to all our youth players and to club person of the Year and U14 team manager Eileen Kenny.

Award winners are:

U13 Boys

  • Player of the Year Rory Bourke & Dylan Mc Cullough
  • Club person of Year Wilem Cahill
  • Most Improved Player MJ O’Reilly

U14 Boys

  • Player of the Year Ethan White
  • Club person of Year James Sharkey
  • Most Improved Player Tom Wallace

U14 Girls

  • Player of the Year Meabh Grennan
  • Club person of Year Kianna Mulhall
  • Most Improved Player Katie Lawless

U15 Boys

  • Player of the Year Conor O’Reilly
  • Club person of Year Cillian Hosty
  • Most Improved Player Charlie Garavan

U16 Boys

  • Player of the Year Rob Bradley
  • Club person of Year Rory Wilson
  • Most Improved Player Rory Kelliher

U17 Boys

  • Player of the Year Paul Sharkey
  • Club person of Year Conor Gibbs
  • Most Improved Player Mathew Harty

U18 .5 Boys

  • Player of the Year Harry Lynch
  • Club person of Year Hernando Calleja
  • Most Improved Player Tom Ryan

U18 Girls

  • Player of the Year Megan Connolly
  • Club person of Year Rebecca Hastings
  • Most Improved Player Dominika Matula

Kieran “Dint” Downey hits 50 AIL Caps

By Ciarán Ó Flaithearta

Kieran Downey

Zoom opened and Dint sat before me on my computer screen, baby Airlaith on his knee, which even though I have trained with him for the past two seasons and knew he was a dad it was still a little weird for me to see him holding a baby instead of a rugby ball.  Let’s look into who our club captain Kieran Downey is, as he marks his 50th AIL cap for the club this weekend.

Kieran Downey grew up in the southwest village of Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry, like most areas of Kerry a football stronghold. After watching the Six Nations on the telly one-year Dint decided he wanted to pick up the oval ball aswell as the round one to play with Castleisland rugby club “I started playing there as an eight-year-old and I haven’t really stopped since”.  

By the age of 16, he had won a Munster U16 title and reached an All Ireland semi-final with Castleisland where they were narrowly beaten in the Sports Ground “which was massive at the time for our club being just a Junior club and to be playing against the likes of big clubs like Buccaneers and to run them that close in an All Ireland semi-final was massive”. Dint went on to play Junior with Castleisland where he also captained that team “as a younger fella”. He played his first years in the AIL with both Kanturk and then Bruff while also making appearances at provincial level for Munster Under 18s and later on the Munster juniors for four years.

While playing rugby in college Dint earned his nickname, after a reoccurring cut caused a dent to form on the bridge of his “The boys in college started calling me ‘Dint’ and it just stuck from there. I know it’s a dent but it’s the way your man used to say it sounded like ‘Dint’,”

Dint moved to Galway with his partner in 2018 after building a house and getting jobs in the county, as so his journey with Galwegians began.

Dint had still been playing with Castleisland and Bruff when he moved to Galway but after training twice with Wegians, Beano asked if he would play against Nenagh the following weekend “I said yes, I didn’t really need to think about it”.

When asked to recall his first cap he responded with a laugh “oh I got sin-binned, and Abdulaq and I made our debut the same day.” He went on to play the next 4 games that season. The following season he signed over fully to the Galwegians and he’s played every game since, claiming the number eight jersey and in 2021/22 season he was asked by Ja to be captain, “and this year I wasn’t even asked I think they just assumed”.

Dint has come a long way since first pulling on the blue jersey in 2019 with the chance this Saturday to make his 50thappearance for the club vs Wanderers for Dint “it happened fairly quickly,…it’s a big mile stone, when you play one or two it’s a novelty but anymore than that your focus changes,.. but any big milestone like that is special”.

 Since making his debut in 2019 he’s had some memorable moments on the pitch, some of his least favourite being last years relegation battle “and any time we lose a derby to Corinthians is a poor moment even as an outsider”. But there have been some special ones too in the mix despite the latest result vs Enniscorthy the game before the Christmas break stood out to him “any day you score seven tries is a special one”, Dint having scored two of the seven himself, but a win vs Dungannon in 2019 stands out.“Dungannon away in 2019, its so hard to go up north and win away, we beat them quite convincingly, we actually kept them scoreless at home against a team from Ulster is very difficult to do, so that has to be one of my favourite moments”.

With all that now behind him Dint looks towards this weekend vs Wanderers “it’s about getting the points this weekend against Wanderers and then trying to take points away from Greystones and get ourselves up and running after the disappointing result last weekend”.

With 50 caps under his belt Dint is well and truly a Galwegian for him and he shows that through his leadership on and off the pitch and understanding what it means to be a Galwegian “Like the club song says it’s all about the show”.

Brendan Guilfoyle Profile

Where From? 

Urlingford Co. Kilkenny originally, but Limerick has been home for the past 20 years.

Age you started playing rugby?

12 in Thurles RFC.

Your position? 

Back row

Former Clubs? 

Thurles, Old Crescent, Buccaneers, Malahide, Thomond and Young Munsters

Representative Honours?

Up to U-21 with Munster and represented Ireland at Rugby League World Cup in 2008

Best Coach Ever Played Under? 

Mike Prendergast. Mike’s delivery and attention to detail was another level and I always learned and progressed through training and games under Mike. 

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

Some of my closest friend were part of an Old Crescent team from about 8 years ago so that group would be the best teammates I’ve had. 

I always liked playing in a local derby up against players I knew were tough or good. As an 8, it was usually an opposition 7 that I found the toughest. Leonard Slattery in Thomond and Ivan Muldoon in Wegians always stick out, but there were plenty more over the last 20 seasons of AIL. 

Biggest Influence on Your Career?

Matt Te Pou was my first senior coach and certainly instilled a lot of confidence in me that allowed me to push on with playing a lot of senior rugby as a young player. Watching Sonny Bill Williams play rugby definitely influenced how I’ve tried to play and coach over the years. 

Coaching Career to Date

Player coach at Thomond, Old Crescent and Malahide. Achieved AIL promotion with all 3 clubs.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign? 

Very positive CSL that showed us the huge potential that is in Wegians. 

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year? 

As a coaching team we want to bring out the best in the players. If we can achieve that then we believe we will be in a great position come the business end of the season. 

Shane O’Brien Profile

Men’s Backs and Skills Coach

Where From?

Limerick

Age you started playing rugby?

Aged 8

Your position?

Out half

Playing Career Highlight?

Winning promotions with Old Crescent & Malahide. Senior & Junior Cup medals with Young Munster.

Best Coach Ever Played Under?

Hard to name one. I have been very lucky with coaches

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

John Shine always come to mind.

Biggest Influence on Your Career?

Nobody in particular, have met plenty good rugby people throughout my career

Coaching Career to Date

Young Munster U20s backs coach for two seasons.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign?

Was happy with 3 wins and the commitment during pre season.

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year?

To be in the mix for a top 4 finish

Jarrad Butler Profile

Where From? 

Paraparaumu, New Zealand

Age you started playing rugby – School or Club? 

9 years old

Your position? 

Backrow

Former Clubs?

East Tigers Brisbane, Tuggernong Vikings Canberra

Representative Honours? 

Barbarians in 2017

Playing Career Highlight?

First professional cap

Best Coach Ever Played Under?

I’ve learnt a lot from many coaches

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

 I’ve had lots of great teammates, my toughest opponent was probably Ma’a Nonu. 

Biggest Influence on Your Career? 

My mum. She got me to all the trainings and games growing up.

Coaching Career to Date.. Clubs…

 2019-2021 Galwegians women seniors, 2022-Current Galwegians mens seniors.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign? 

Really positive preseason with a strong core group of guys.

We’ve made some massive strides in how we want to play and we saw that in a number of performances in the CSL.

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year?

I believe we have everything we need to be in the fight for promotion at the end of this season.

Personally I want to instill pride into our defence and make it a real weapon of ours.

Don Crowley – RIP

Don Crowley
Don Crowley

It is with huge regret that we announce the passing of our former club President and one of our seven past Presidents of the IRFU, Don Crowley, on August 16th peacefully in the loving care of his family.

A Galway City native educated at The Bish, Don was a distinguished open-side flanker during his playing career. He won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal and captained Connacht Schools XV, before studying engineering where he won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal with UCG. However at club level he would go on to have a life-long association with Galwegians, with whom he also won a Connacht Junior League medal.

After hanging up his boots, Don retained his involvement with Wegians where he became a club legend and one of our greatest ambassadors. He had the honour of being President of Galwegians during the famous club tour of Canada in 1977. After serving as club President, he then went on to serve his province in a lengthy and distinguished career. His administrative talents saw him serve as Hon. Secretary of the Connacht Branch from 1981 to 1989, before being elected Branch President for the 1993/1994 season.

At national level his abilities were soon spotted, and he was first elected as a delegate to the IRFU Committee in 1987/88. He would sit on a range of various sub-committees, notably the Charitable Trust for 11 years. In 2002/03 he achieved a personal ambition when he was elected to the highest office in Irish Rugby by becoming President of the IRFU. Quoted at the time, he said: ““I am very proud on a personal level and also for my club Galwegians and the Connacht Branch. After my very enjoyable playing career, I was very happy to serve the game at club, provincial and National level.” 

That year his club Galwegians held a celebratory dinner in his honour where over 300 friends and club colleagues attended a memorable event in the then Galway Radisson Hotel. It would also prove to be a momentous season, as the fate of Connacht rugby and its funding was under serious threat from the IRFU at the time. However under Don’s Presidency and stewardship, and with strong public backing from the grassroots rugby community, the province’s professional status was preserved.

A hugely popular man, Don’s efficiency and personality made him perfect for the role of liaison officer to major touring teams coming into Ireland down the years, including the All Blacks, Australians, South Africa, the Barbarians, Italy, Canada and Fiji. Tributes have been pouring in for Don since news of his passing, best summarised by Galwegians President Frank Kinneen who described him thus: “Don Crowley ..our incredible statesman, life-long member of Galwegians and an absolute gentleman. May he rest in peace.”

Don is survived by his loving wife Vicky and children, so to them and his extended family we extend our heartfelt sympathies.

Galwegians – 100 Not Out

President Carl Blake

As we finish the season 2021-22, we have many reasons to reflect on a year of progress for our great club Galwegians RFC. Let’s remember that before the season started last autumn, we had just endured 18 months of lockdown, when we had virtually no rugby nor even any social activity. So to end a season which saw all of our teams able to field and compete, and with social occasions near back to normal, we have many reasons to be grateful for the season past.

Of course there were some significant milestones along the way. We are well into our centenary year, and there are some exciting plans about to be unveiled by our centenary working committee in the coming weeks. However as well as celebrating 100 years past, I want us to look forward with optimism that our club will be around for the next 100 years. 

The sale of our grounds Crowley Park in December was a hugely significant moment in this. Remember that the deal negotiated sees our new landlords GMIT (or now the ATU) giving us a lease of up to 10 years to remain in Glenina, until we find our new home. In the coming weeks we will be spending our recent Sports Capital grant on some vital upgrading of facilities. And with the sale out of the way, the committee, and especially the Development sub-committee, can now really focus its attention on finding a location to develop fit-for-purpose grounds. This will safeguard our long-term future as a vibrant thriving club serving the needs of our local community.

In terms of the here and now, it’s time to focus on our exciting plans for next season on and off the field. Work has already started, and I believe that our adult teams, men’s and women’s, have good reason to be optimistic for 2022-23. Our underage structure is of course vital, and last week our Youths coaches and managers had a very energetic and inspiring session to set out our stall for the season ahead. We all know that we are in a very competitive space with other clubs, and not just rugby. But we are up for the challenge and ready to play to our strengths to put our best foot forward. 

Let’s not forget though that to run a successful amateur club, we will always rely hugely on volunteers.  We are blessed to have some terrific role model volunteers in Galwegians, who give so selflessly of your time. One of my most difficult tasks this year was choosing the Club Person of the Year. Abe Afolabi was a hugely deserving winner, but there were so many stand-out contenders to choose from. We just need to find a few more to spread the load.

This weekend gives a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this. We have ca. 30 volunteers signed up to roll up their sleeves and help out in the Club Clean-Up to spruce up the clubhouse and grounds. If you haven’t yet signed up, please lend us a hand if you can. 

Can I also encourage as many people as possible to attend our AGM next Wednesday evening (June 15th 7pm) to reflect on the year past, and make some positive contributions for next year. 

Finally, to all our volunteers who have helped out this year on or off the field in whatever capacity, I just want to express my sincere thanks for all that you have done. There were so many highlights that I will treasure for many years in remembering my term as club President. It has been a real privilege to serve you. While I hand over to my successor next week, I will certainly remain active next season. We all have a role to play, and I really look forward to working with you all to help us restore our rightful place as the leading club in Connacht.

#WegiansAbú

Carl Blake,
President 2021-22

Senior Club Awards 2022

Women’s 1st XVPlayer of The YearMairead Coyne
Players’ Player of the YearLisa Marie Murphy
Most Improved PlayerSaskia Morrissey
Women’s 2nd XVPlayer of The YearAoife Williams
Players’ Player of the YearRuby Lynch
Most Improved PlayerAnn Marie Herward
Men’s 1st XVPlayer of The Year Christy Reilly
Players’ Player of the YearBen McGuinness
Men’s 2nd XVPlayer of The YearConor O’Reilly
Players’ Player of the YearCormac Furey
Men’s 3rd XVPlayer of The YearNeill Walsh
Players’ Player of the YearDylan Donohoe
Men’s Under 20sPlayer of The YearEvan Brady
Players’ Player of the Year George Hill
Club Person of the YearAbraham Afolabi

AGM Wed June 15th 7pm

The Galwegians RFC AGM will be held on Wed June 15th at 7pm in Crowley Park.

We thought it opportune to remind or inform members of the purpose of the AGM.

Fundamentally, it is a formal review of the previous year, which leads into the election of club officers and Board of Management.

The current Board would like to encourage the active participation of members in the AGM and would welcome interest in some of the key officer roles for next season.

Our Club Constitution is accessible on the club website

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