Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

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Senior Players Awards Winners 2023-24

View the full gallery by Molina Oung or click on awardee names below

Women

Men’s U20s

Men’s Thirds

Men’s Seconds

Men’s Firsts

  • Player of the Year: Oisin Halpin  (absent)
  • Players’ Player of the Year: Garyn Daniel
  • Most Improved Player: Ryan Smith

Club Person of the Year

AIL 2C playoffs preview

Galwegians’ second-place finish in AIL Division 2C means we still have a shot at promotion to Division 2B through the play-offs. 

Playoff arrangements

The teams that go through to the playoffs for 2B are the second, third and fourth teams of 2C and the ninth-placed finisher of 2B. These teams are Galwegians, Bruff, Enniscorthy and Dolphin respectively.

Playoff semi-final on Sat Apr 20th

The AIL 2C playoff semi-finals taking place on April 20 semi-finals are:

  • Dolphin vs Enniscorthy 
  • Galwegians vs Bruff

Playoff final on Sat Apr 27th

The winners of each semi-final will play in the final on April 27th.

The highest-ranked team across the two divisions will play at home. For example, if Dolphin wins the semi-final then they will play the final at home, whereas if Enniscorthy wins then they will play away. 

Variations in regulations for play-offs

Play-offs have some alterations to the standard AIL regulations

Both teams can use up to eight replacements for the games. Three of the replacements must be front-row forwards with two props and a hooker. 

If the game is tied at full-time, there will be extra time with two 10-minute periods to decide the winner. If the game is still tied after extra time, the winner will be determined by the side who scored the most tries. If the number of tries scored is equal, it will be determined by who scored the first try. If no tries were scored, whoever scored first will win. If miraculously there was not a single score, then penalties will decide the winner!

Quick look at the playoff semi finalists

Bruff

Our semi-final opponents will be Bruff, who Galwegians have failed to beat in the previous three meetings between the two sides. Indeed, it was Bruff that saw us relegated us to Division 2C last season after a 24-12 defeat at home.

Galwegians are yet to exact their revenge as Bruff then launched two extraordinary comebacks over us this season. First at home when were 26-0 at halftime only to concede a last-minute try to force a 26-26 draw. The visit to county Limerick ended similarly, with Galwegians leading 30-10 with 20 minutes to go only to see a late penalty kick seal the win for Bruff.

The Blues will be desperate to settle the score and get the win when it matters most.

Enniscorthy

If we overcome Bruff and make it to the final, we will have two potential opponents standing in our way. The first of these is a familiar foe, Enniscorthy. Both Galwegians and Enniscorthy went down to 2C together last season so both will be desperate to make their return up the divisions immediately.

It’s 2-2 between the two sides over the last two seasons, and a win apiece this year. Galwegians got the first win over the Wexford side with a 22-13 win at home before a narrow 25-20 loss in the new year.

Enniscorthy looked set to be our semi-final opponents in the play-offs but six defeats in the last ten games saw them slump to fourth after losing against Bruff in the penultimate round of the season. They will need to win twice away from home if they want to bounce back to 2B.

Dolphin

There was a four-way fight for relegation in Division 2B between Belfast Harlequins, Dolphin, Skerries and Malahide on the final day of the season. In the end, it was Belfast Harlequins that was automatically relegated to 2C and Dolphin who have the chance to fight to remain in 2B.

Dolphin are looking to prevent back-to-back relegations after falling from 2A to 2B last year.

A rocky start to their season saw them win just two of the opening nine games. Despite winning just five games all season, they accumulated ten bonus points, many from losing by very tight margins.

A win against Dungannon on the final day means they live to fight another day and will be no pushovers as they seek to ensure safety in Division 2B.

C’mon the Blues

The semi-finals are just over a week away. Make sure you support the Blues by coming down to Crowley Park on Saturday April 20th. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.

Mick Casserly honoured by Galwegians

Mick Casserly was one of the standout players for the side residing in Glenina from the late sixties to the early eighties as one of the greatest players to ever don the sky blue jersey for Galwegians.

He captained the Blues for five seasons and has been labelled as one of the greatest wing-forwards to never play for Ireland, and many from that time say he was deserving of several Irish caps. 

Last week in the grounds of Crowley Park, a second home to many of the Galwegian faithful, a lunch was held in his honour to recognise his accolades during his time in Galwegians, and the influence and impact he has created at this club and beyond. This was a large turnout for the event, with former players, coaches, presidents and esteemed guests paying tribute to one of the club’s finest legends.

Hailing from Bohermore, Mick’s senior rugby playing days kickstarted with OLBC RFC before switching his allegiances to Galwegians towards the end of the sixties. This coincided with Galwegians’ move to Glenina a couple of years prior. Following the path of the Shaughnessy brothers who he played alongside in his days in OLBC, he joined the senior squad for the 1968/69 season.

Throughout his time in Galwegians, he became one of the club’s stalwarts, captaining his team in five seasons, from 1970-72, 1974-5, 1978-9 and briefly towards the tail end of the 1979/80 season. Mick was predominantly a wing forward for the majority of his career, utilising his great athletic ability. But he proved to be quite versatile as he assumed the role at number eight over the course of a decade for both club and province. 

A quiet man off the pitch, Mick found his voice on it and rallied his men together. In a time when there would be no coaches for training and games, the responsibilities remained with the captain and the vice-captain. He demonstrated leadership on the field and formed a formidable Galwegians squad during the seventies. Galwegians President Erc Dunne, who was the master of ceremonies at the function, described Mick as a: “honest and quiet grafter, who put his heart and soul into the jersey. Tougher than nails because nails bend”.

He would contribute to Galwegians’ success in the seventies, including five Connacht Senior Cups and three Connacht Senior League titles. His success attracted the attention of Connacht early on in his Galwegians career and earned his first senior interpro appearance against Ulster in 1968, the same year he joined the club. He would play many times in green with his final game for the province taking place in 1980.

One of the crowning moments of his rugby career would be earning the privilege of captaining Connacht in the inaugural meeting between Connacht and New Zealand on November 20 1974. Leading out his side in the Galway Sportsground as part of three Galwegians players selected as part of the matchday squad, was the culmination of his outstanding performances throughout the years. 

International honours would soon follow for Mick, earning his first Irish appearance with the Ireland ‘B’ squad or the ‘Wolfhounds’ as they were called. Playing in Lansdowne Road in December 1975, it was the first ever game for the ‘B’ team which was a showdown against the France ‘B’ team which ended 9-9. He returned for the rematch in Dijon a year later where was accompanied in the back row by fellow Connacht compatriot John O’Driscoll. 

Currently, the IRFU Junior Vice President, John O’Driscoll played alongside Mick for many years for Connacht. John remembered his first training session and the first player he met was Mick, his partner as a flanker. Feeling like an outsider coming into the squad, O’Driscoll said: “He greeted me like an old friend and made me feel totally welcome, which made a huge difference to me”.

“Mick and myself went on to play for many years at the back row for Connacht,” said John. “Mick was always inspirational to me. He was as tough as teak, he was a very skilful player and a wonderful to play with”. 

But despite Mick proving himself to be one of the greats to come out of Galwegians and indeed, of Connacht, he would never make an appearance for the senior Irish rugby squad. However, it didn’t diminish his commitment towards his club and province or his sheer ability. Former teammate Dick O’Hanlon who spoke at the event said: “It was indicative of how highly Mick is held in both this club and outside that so many have taken the time to be here today”. Many people spoke out on how Mick was deserving of an Irish cap on more than one occasion. 

Mick remained at Galwegians towards the twilight of his playing days. Even after retirement, Mick continued to dedicate his services to Galwegians and took on coaching in the eighties. Starting as the club coach for the senior squad, he ended up achieving successful campaigns with the U18s that swept the competition in both the league and the cup. Many would find his experience and wisdom to be invaluable, a massive contributing factor to their success. 

Following the dawn of the new millennium, Mick Casserly’s involvement in Galwegians earned him the club’s highest honour: the role of club president which he served from 2007-2009. After his two terms as president, he would take on the role of the Director of Rugby for the next two years. Mick attended as many games as possible both home and away, which just embodies the level of passion Mick still has for the club even after half a century. 

The level of devotion to Galwegians can still be felt to this very day as the Casserly are one of many third-generation families part of the illustrious history of Galwegians. His son John Casserly carried on the lineage of the Casserlys, present in the inaugural years of Galwegians’ AIL journey and just like his father, would wear the captain’s armband from 2003 to 2005. 

John spoke about his father’s enthusiasm towards rugby: “Dad’s personality is whatever he takes on in life, he throws himself into it wholeheartedly.  Anything he did in life, he gave it 110%. That’s the only way he could do it and he enjoyed every second of it”. 

The legacy of Mick Casserly will live on in Galwegians folklore as one of the finest players to come out of Glenina, and a perfect ambassador for Galwegians.

Mens U20s Mid-Season Update

Our challenging opening qualification campaign resulted in a narrow 31-29 loss to local city rivals Corinthians, meaning we unfortunately missed out on securing a spot in the JP Fanagan Premier 2 competition.

However, under the leadership of Captain Brian McHugo and Co-Captain Jack Quinn, our squad has demonstrated remarkable resilience and gone from strength to strength.

We started our league campaign by winning our first 5 league games in JP Flanagan Premier 3 consecutively. Notable features were dominant performances that included holding both Malahide and Coolmine to 0 tries against us.

Despite facing numerous injuries in key positions, our team exhibited great character and depth with players stepping up to play out of position.

The only setback in the first half of the league has been a narrow 24-19 defeat to Blackrock, a match where either team could have emerged victorious.

As we approach the Christmas break and halfway point in the league, we find ourselves only 3 points behind Blackrock in the standing thanks to bonus points earned. We are firmly in contention for the top spot in the New Year.

Anticipation is high for our upcoming rematch against Blackrock. Throughout the season, we have delivered an exciting brand of rugby, scoring an impressive 224 points over 6 games.

We aim to continue our style in 2024 when we face Naas away in our first fixture on January 14th.

Club Constitution Information Evening on Feb 8th 2024

Galwegians RFC (“the Club”)  is presently an unincorporated association.  It operates under a constitution which provides that the property of the Club shall be held by the Trustees of the Club. The present constitution provides that the Trustees “shall be not  less than two and not more than five in number”.

Presently, there are three  Trustees namely Peter Crowley,  Michael Deacy and Billy Glynn.  These Trustees have acted diligently on behalf of the Club for many years and two of them now wish to retire.

For liability and other reasons it is more appropriate that any unincorporated association, such as the Club, would operate as a corporate structure.   The present Board of Management of the Club propose that the Club should move in this direction.

This would mean that the present structure would be wound up,  that a company limited by guarantee would be formed and that this company will take over the operations, activities, assets and liabilities of the Club.

It is proposed to hold an information evening in relation to this proposed change on  Thursday 8 February 2024 at 8 p.m. in Crowley Park with a view to holding a Special General Meeting (“SGM”) some weeks later for the purpose of moving to a corporate structure. 

The matters to be dealt with at the SGM would be:

  1. The approval of a new corporate constitution.
  2. Authorisation to immediately incorporate a new company limited by guarantee.
  3. The dissolution of the present Club structure
  4. The transfer of the operations, activities, membership, assets and liabilities of the Club to the new corporate entity.

All members are invited to attend the information evening on Thursday 8 February 2024 to discuss this extremely important step for the future of the Club.

Draft new constitution is available for viewing and download below.

Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History book launch

Galwegians RFC formally launched their centenary book publication ‘Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History’ at the clubhouse in Crowley Park on Thursday Dec. 7th.

A huge crowd of past & present Galwegians, friends and invited guests and dignitaries were present to witness the culmination of over 3 years’ work.

As part of their centenary celebrations, the club committee decided to document their history and commissioned well-known Galway-based rugby author Linley MacKenzie to write the book. Designed and printed by local company iSupply, it features almost 200 pages. It vividly captures the club’s history from its foundation in 1922 through to present day, with numerous stories, recollections and photographs featuring many of the club’s key personalities. 

Many of the local public representatives were present at the event, including Mayor of Galway city Councillor Eddie Hoare who addressed the audience, commending Galwegians on their history, their contribution to the sporting and social fabric of Galway city and the quality of the book’s publication.

Master of ceremonies, Galwegians President Erc Dunne, also introduced the author Linley MacKenzie, who spoke about her experience of writing the book and researching the club’s rich history. The book was then formally launched by Galwegians Trustee Michael Deacy, a long-serving life member, past President and a member of one of the club’s most influential families.

Galwegians RFC – 100 Years of Rugby History is available to purchase at:

  • Clubhouse in Crowley Park, Glenina
  • Whelan’s CarePlus Pharmacy, Williamsgate St., Galway
  • 0Dangan Nurseries, Newcastle Rd, Galway
  • Online with worldwide postage via  https://tinyurl.com/WegiansHistoryBook

More details including Table of Contents and excerpts are in the History section of the club website.

Centenary Book excerpt 4 – The King and I

As IRFU president in 1968/69 and a chief dignitary at the Five Nations in Cardiff, Chris Crowley was seated beside Prince Charles, now HM King Charles III, at the fixture against Wales.

It was at a time when Cardiff Arms Park’s new east stand was still in its construction stage. The Irish team was on a high, brimming with confidence. Having played seven internationals in succession without being beaten – six wins and one draw, Ireland were favourites in March 1969.  Only Wales stood between Ireland and the Triple Crown.

Arriving at the Seabank Hotel Portcawl, the Irish party headquarters, it was discovered the Irish captain, before leaving Cork, had received a strange telephone message from a London-based rugby journalist, that apparently the Welsh team had worked out some devious plan, not entirely within the Laws of the Game, to cut the Irish party down to size.

Tom Kiernan did not give much credence to it, but Chris believed a new tension seemed to developing in the entire Irish party, while there was an increased determination to win this match among the players. 

The two teams had togged out in temporary dressing rooms, and the Welsh Rugby Union’s arrangements required that the Prince, escorted by the two Union presidents, Chris Crowley and Ivor Jones, would walk across from the east side to the centre of the pitch where the two teams were lined up in the usual way. 

Chris recalls hearing a lot of booing all around the ground as they walked out – and jokingly whispered to Jones, was it him [Jones] or Chris they were booing – what was it about?  Jones whispered back “fiercely”. “Shut your bloody mouth Chris. He’ll hear you [meaning the prince].”

He recalls another odd occurrence as Prince Charles walked along the two lines shaking hands with the players, one of whom was the Welsh sub hooker Norman Gale. Gale stood with both hands deep in his pockets.

“As the prince came to him, he (Gale) slowly and apparently reluctantly dragged one hand out his pocket and half held it out to be shaken.  

“Then I was intrigued to hear the Prince say: ‘Oh, you’re not playing, you’re just a reserve.’

 “I thought Gale lost out in the little demonstration of bad manners.”

 

Centenary Book excerpt 3 – Warren Gatland

“By the time I am finished with you, you are going to play like you’ve never played before.” 

Warren Gatland

True to his first words in Glenina, Warren Gatland brought Galwegians to a new level, into the All Ireland League, and playing some of the most memorable and innovative rugby in Ireland.

Not only coach on the field, he was a manager too, and from an “a la carte attitude to training”, he introduced a fine system to ensure discipline in the team and required numbers at training. Off the field, it was a case of walk like a duck, be a duck. With all members required to wear shirt, tie and jumpers, Galwegians began to look like what they were training to be.

It resonated with the players and Jody Green, who saw Gatland as an “All Black”.

“He never struck me as a 26-years-old – he always came across as someone who was an All Black and a fantastic coach who was doing something for us that we had never had before. All the building blocks were being put in place by him as both manager and a coach. All the things they take for granted now, we were introduced to them for the first time by him.”

Quiet by nature, Gatland never raised his voice. There was no banging tables, but his teaching skills were evident in ensuring the messages were received loud and clear in his own way.

Although he had not set any goals on arrival, he did establish objectives – nothing too phenomenal – to make training more enjoyable and educational, to implement clear calls and moves that every player understood, to promote individual players by playing quality rugby and being successful – and the fourth, and the most crucial, was to set team rules. All players had to turn up at training and on time, and would only be absent with prior permission.

He made them work hard and taught self discipline – the Hennie Muller drill, named after a South African player, was a well known form of torture – figures of eight round the pitch, and timed. It was all about self-discipline, honesty both on the pitch and in training. If a player cut a corner or went inside the flag, Gatland would always ask at the end if anyone cut the corner. However it also made it enjoyable.

On one occasion after the question was asked, he followed up with, anyone not get a shift last night? Shane Guerin put his hand up, followed by brother Enda,

“I’m with you bro.” So the two were told to do another lap as a result. Halfway around the pitch, they realised the entire squad was rolling around on the ground in stitches.

He also introduced a fine system, but it would pay for the pints after matches – a celebration or bonding session on Saturday night was all part of the building blocks.

“Fast forward to Gatland’s Lions v All Blacks,” says O’Donnell. “The Lions are under pressure going into the last match, but Gatland takes the squad for a day out, a few beers and a sing-song, where everyone had to sing a song from their own country – that was Gatty back in Galwegians.”

In addition to his attention to detail, he was an innovator and a thinker – and few forget his 15-man line-out, while also carrying that further in the scrum and driving maul, where backs could join it. That too was perfected with practice on the pitch – ensuring each player knew how to join legally. Such thinking was ahead of its time, and few teams initially had it figured out.

Green remembers travelling to St Mary’s which had been a bogey team for Galwegians.

On one occasion when taking a hammering, hooker Ciaran Fitzgerald had taken a conversion just for laughs, but on the next occasion under Gatland, it was the Glenina side that prevailed after taking them apart with their rolling maul.

Meticulous in its planning, everyone was tutored how and where they could join it, and where to put their shoulder, and cleverly, Gatland took time to have conversations with referees, basically telling them what was going to happen – in accordance with the rules – so his innovative practices would not take them by surprise.

Brian O’Donnell, playing outhalf on one occasion, recalls the armchair ride he was given as a result.

“The referee was Alan Lewis, and I remember him saying ‘this is actually beautiful’ as I was walking along with him, and bringing the centres with me.”

Centenary Book excerpt 2 – Losing the lid

A letter sent to the Galwegians committee in the early 1950s:

Dear Mr Costello,

I am writing about the top of the Senior Cup which has been missing for some weeks now.

This cup was brought in from T Richardson’s digs for the dinner on Saturday night May 3. It was left in the office afterwards and there it remained for some weeks.

One evening about three weeks ago I met Gerry in Dominick Street and he asked me what I did with the top of it. This was a surprise to me as I had no recollection of removing the lid and the only thing I could conclude was that if I did, I must have been well gone.

He said he would make enquiries. Since then Tim Richardson has also made an investigation without result.

It was a pity the matter was let slide for so long without letting me know, and now we have no option but to notify the Guards. When they call I’d be obliged if you would produce all members of your staff who saw me removing the lid and give full information as to where I took it and where I was last seen with it.

It must be found before the end of the month as otherwise I’ll have to be making arrangements to have it replaced.

I’ll hardly report this matter until Saturday the fourth, and in the meanwhile I would appreciate if you have an exhaustive search made of our entire premises. After all, there is no proof that I didn’t leave it back, if I took it, and that somebody else removed it subsequently.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. X

To find out the identity of Mr. X, and whether the lid was ever found, get ready to order your advance copy of our book. This will available very soon to buy online.

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.

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