Urlingford Co. Kilkenny originally, but Limerick has been home for the past 20 years.
Age you started playing rugby?
12 in Thurles RFC.
Thurles, Old Crescent, Buccaneers, Malahide, Thomond and Young Munsters
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.
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.
The Galwegians RFC Youth Academy Awards ceremony was held in glorious sunshine on Wednesday evening April 27th at Crowley Park. A huge turn-out by youths players, coaches, managers & parents saw over 20 individual awards presented on the night by club President Carl Blake.
The event was superbly organised by Master of Ceremonies, the Galwegians Director of Youths Football Mickey Sherlock, who thanked all the coaches, managers, parents and family members for supporting the club throughout the year. However he singled out the Youth teams and players for specific mention, as they are what the evening was all about and who represent the future of the club. He also cited the fact that no less than seven members of the current Galwegians Senior Men’s AIL squad are recent products of Galwegians Mini-rugby and the Youths systems, emphasising the progression pathway which is there for young players within the club.
Galwegians are celebrating their centenary this year. Two of the underage boys’ teams (U13’s & U18.5’s) have just this month completed memorable tours to Portugal and France respectively, and Wegians are planning tours next season for the underage teams.
Before presenting the individual prizes, President Carl Blake addressed the large attendance and also thanked and praised all involved for running a very successful underage season. He also singled out Director of Youths Football Mickey Sherlock himself for overseeing this hugely important part of the club all year and for masterminding the Awards event. He also stressed the importance of young players both staying involved and also helping recruit more friends to join and give rugby a try.
Both the President and Director of Youths emphasised that while their grounds in Crowley Park were recently sold to GMIT (now ATU), that Galwegians have a bright future and will remain for hopefully another 100 years. They have up to 10 years to remain at Crowley Park but are working hard sourcing new playing grounds.
Besides the underage player awards, the final act saw the presentation of the Galwegians Youth Rugby Person of the year Award, which acknowledges an individual who has gone above and beyond the role of volunteerism during the year. And for outstanding contribution as a parent, coach, organiser and volunteer in many areas of the club, this year’s deserving recipient is Dervilla Hehir Campbell.
Reared in centre of town and living in Salthill for past 34 years.
Wife Carmel, two daughters, Michelle & Alison and a son, Frank, who played up to U18 for Club.
First Joined Wegians?
Thirds mostly, Seconds and Firsts when they were really stuck, like late call ups for trips up North.
Previous Roles in the Club?
Thirds captain, Club Secretary, Coach in Youths Section.
Qualified as a Solicitor in 1980, founded M G Ryan & Co in 1983 and recently retired. Former President of the Galway Solicitors Bar Association.
Hobbies Outside Rugby
The great outdoors generally be it on the road or mountain bike, the ocean, mountains and have a particular grá for the Aran Islands and the Alps where I spend some time and will be operating remotely from at times.
I am an active member of St Vincent de Paul Society and currently President of the Salthill Conference as well as a member of the Board that runs Croi na Gaillimhe, the resource centre in Mill Street.
I am my wife’s garden labourer. Member of Fr Griffin’s GAA club and avid spectator-viewer of all sports except cricket.
Your Hopes or Aspirations?
Hoping to join with a hard working team in making the Club the premier Club in Connacht again in new state of the art facilities.
Sincerely hope that all members past and president will come on board.
Variants are inevitable in viral infections and the appearance of them has been predicted from the start of the pandemic. Information on Omicron is relatively sparse compared to what we know about previous variants, but the early signs do show that it is probably much more transmissible than the most recent named one, that being Delta.
This is a rapidly changing landscape. However, for now the sensible thing to do is to proceed with caution.
Try to limit close contacts, especially in poorly ventilated rooms.
Sanitise/Wash your hands.
Avoid hugging and handshakes.
Be especially careful around people with weakened immune systems (the older age groups, diabetics, people on immunosuppressive drugs, those receiving treatment for cancer etc).
Wear a mask where and when requested.
And if you don’t feel comfortable with the amount of people around you, just leave. There’s no need to even make an excuse. Just leave and stay safe.
But this phase too will pass, and we have given ourselves the best chance we can by being vaccinated and maintaining the simple rules that have served us quite well since March 2020. And the future months may provide more hope than we can foresee at the moment.
So I encourage you all to stay the course, get your booster, protect each other by taking simple steps, and above all, have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
Hopefully the next time I am writing, we will be in a much brighter situation.
Back in February I wrote about my own personal experience having received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and the positive impact that it had on me personally. I am delighted to be able to say that many club members (although obviously not all) have now also been vaccinated.
During this time I also became a vaccinator myself and have vaccinated approximately 75 people. I would have to say that it has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done in the 30 years that I have been a doctor.
In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic overall, I thought I would take the opportunity to give you my own thoughts from a medical point of view and discuss briefly what we has individuals and as a club can continue to do to improve the situation.
The virus has inevitably mutated into a more transmissible variant (“Delta”) and this is most likely not the last variant that we will see. The upshot is that infection rates remain extremely high. This tends to be in the younger age group of 15-29 years of age, mainly because this group are only partly vaccinated as of yet. Although hospitalisations have been markedly reduced, we are still seeing quite a significant number of people being admitted to hospital and now we are starting to see young men and women in their 20s very unwell in the intensive care unit.
So, whilst we are going in the right direction and are coming into the end game of this bizarre and challenging situation, the virus can still cause major disruption. With this in mind, I would encourage every member of the club, from teenagers up to the oldest members, to get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible.
I know there have been concerns about the various vaccines that have been amplified incorrectly on social media. However, looking at the proper scientific data shows the incidence of severe side effects from any of the vaccines is extremely rare and much less than the risk of acute COVID, or more worryingly, Long COVID which we know very little about as of yet.
This remains an illness that you do not want to get, no matter what age you are, with some recent work showing that it may she calls a destruction of brain tissue in a significant number of people, which highlights the seriousness of the situation.
All adult club members are now in a position to be able to register for vaccination, and indeed my own local pharmacist in Roscam just received a supply of single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine which he was giving to 3 young men in the short time that I was in his premises yesterday. I would encourage people to also look at this route of utilising the pharmacists.
As I said, the side effect profile for severe side effects is extremely rare and I myself have given over 75 people two doses of vaccine which I think shows the level of trust that I have personally in the vaccines, and that almost all of my medical colleagues do as well.
The only way to beat this virus and return to normality is via vaccination. By being vaccinated you are protecting not only yourself but also those around you, including those who for other reasons cannot be vaccinated.
One of the amazing aspects of rugby is team work, where people are willing to put themselves in physical danger for the betterment of the team overall. If you are willing to put body on the line for your teammates on the rugby field, I think that same sense of team work and interest in the betterment of others will help you to decide that vaccination is in not only your best interest, but the team and the community’s best interest too.
I would also point out that we need to remain vigilant in terms of minimisation of social and physical contact, maintaining social distancing, mask wearing where necessary, not sharing car journeys with each other unless everyone is vaccinated, not sharing equipment and sticking to pods of 15 (or the appropriate number) in training, and filling out the fitness to play declaration on every occasion throughout all levels of the club.
One positive case has the possibility of taking out 15 players for 2 weeks, not only from training and playing but also from work and all other social contact. We all have a responsibility to each other and to the club in general to minimise the risks of any of us transmitting the virus if we are positive.
As I said previously in February, vaccines are the way out of this intolerable situation we are in and I am delighted that this prediction is coming true. We are in a much better position than we were at at almost any stage over the last 18 months, and there is certainly hope not just on the horizon, but much closer than that.
I would encourage every club member for the sake of themselves, an their teammates, the club and the community in general to get themselves vaccinated as quickly as possible, to believe in fact and hard science, and to put your faith in what to see around you in terms of how effective the vaccines have been to date. By pulling together and looking after each other, we will see this out until the end and return to a significant sense of normality over the next couple of months.
I would like to applaud everyone for the phenomenal efforts that they have put in over the last 18 months, especially the efforts of those who stepped forward to volunteer as COVID compliance officers, as well as the club officers who have always taken this situation very seriously, and have been open to listening to my suggestions and advice.
I think all of us deserve an evening of celebration sometime in the future and I would be very hopeful that that will be in the next couple of months.
Best of luck to everyone in this new season and remember, PLEASE GET VACCINATED!
Prof. David Bouchier-Hayes (DBH) Club COVID Safety Officer and Medical Supervisor
Ex international Gordon Darcy cycled into Crowley Park as part of his 8560km fundraiser for the amazing Barretstown Charity for sick children and families.
Thanks to all who turned up, Darce visited 9 clubs and was hugely impressed with his welcome in Crowley Park.
See the pictures below. Sincere thanks the Mike Shaughnessy Photography for these.
Well done President Erc Dunne for the organisation and for stepping aside to make U13 Jack Farrell special president for the day. Jack hugely impressed all including Darce himself as can be seen by this tweet.