Tuesday 17 October 2017

OLBC start process of reclaiming success

Former powerhouse of Connacht rugby has decided to start again and build towards the future, writes Daragh Small

OLBC playing in the Connacht J2 League semi-final against Ballina
OLBC playing in the Connacht J2 League semi-final against Ballina
OLBC playing in the Connacht J2 League semi-final against Ballina

Daragh Small

As a former tighthead prop from 'the old vintage', Ginger John Tyerman is still very much involved in the game even after his retirement, and now he is hoping to enthuse the next generation and help his club flourish once more.

The 47-year-old hails from Yorkshire in England and he began rugby when he was just 12 years old.

The game showed Tyerman the ropes at a number of clubs, but eventually he ended up in the west where the position of manager of Galway side Our Lady's Boys Club (OLBC) came his way.

OLBC was originally founded in 1941 by Rev Fr Leonard Shiel, and he acted as the spiritual director of the club in its earlier years, before the club was officially affiliated to the Connacht Branch in 1955.

Nowadays, OLBC are based on College Road, at the Sportsground, where they share a pitch with Connacht Rugby, and Donncha Carey is head coach with Tyerman the manager and forwards coach.

Tyerman has previously played with York RI, Ilkley RFC and Harrogate as well as stints in South Africa and Ireland. And he has learned so much from the game he loves.

"I'd be from the old vintage, and from my experience, rugby is a sport where you would go onto the pitch, knock lumps out of each other, and when the whistle blows there is massive camaraderie with everyone on both teams," he says.

"It teaches you such discipline and is a sport that you can knock each other around the place and come off the pitch and have a good drink with your opposite man.

Develop "It's the most rounded sport to develop young people and players because of the respect you have to have on and off the field."

Rugby has never been bigger in Ireland and in Connacht, off the back of their wondrous PRO12 win in 2015-'16. And although they didn't back that up last season as they failed in their bid to reach the Champions Cup, Kieran Keane's introduction as the new head coach has breathed new life into the province once again.

And in turn OLBC will soon begin to feel the effects too. It has been a tough few years for the historic club, but Tyerman says he believes things will begin to turn around very soon.

"We have improved for a long time, although we are going through a lean spell at the moment. We have a lot of past players who have gone on to bigger and better things but they are coming back to the club and we are hoping to do a lot better soon," says Tyerman.

"We are down in J2, although that was a conscious decision by us to go down and restructure. It's about development and bringing players on where they didn't have to step into higher-level rugby straight away.

"We topped the league last year but let ourselves down in the play-offs. That was when we made the decision we wouldn't go back up.

"But the future is bright. We have some very good young players coming through. They are new to the sport but they will become good players. As long as we can hang onto them we would hope to do better."

Former OLBC player, captain and coach Tom 'Mossy' Moran is the current vice-president of the Connacht Branch and he will take over the reins in 2018-'19 to become the third member of the club to become Connacht president, following on from the late Paddy Beatty, and Mick Grealish.

It's a further sign of the brilliant links that exist between club and province and Tyerman says OLBC are indebted to Connacht Rugby.

"Connacht have done a lot for us in terms of the use of the ground, and we have done a lot for them too. We have a great relationship with Connacht and they really help us tick over. It wouldn't be possible without their help," adds Tyerman.

But OLBC also owe a depth of gratitude to Tyerman and the amount of work that he does behind the scenes. Rugby management encompasses a vast array of challenging circumstances but he loves doing it.

Busy "Outside of rugby I am general manager with C2 Security. I am kept very busy with them, being general manager it never really stops. The only day off I would get is a Sunday and then I am tied in with the rugby so it's all go," says Tyerman.

"About four years ago I was approached by John Hardiman and Simon Lawless to get involved in the management side of things when I was managing the Galway Rugby League Club.

"I would organise all of the structure on game day and liaise with Connacht because we play out of the Sportsground. My thing would be liaising with them for our training pitches and match-day, and picking the team alongside the head coach, because I'm the forwards coach at the moment."

And despite his busy working week which never really stops once it gets going, Tyerman thrives on the pressure that comes with it, and being a part of OLBC is a major reason for the energy he exudes.

It's a club that is steeped in the tradition of Galway City and its rugby, and they celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2015 and continue to go from strength to strength.

OLBC won their first Junior League in 1959-'60, they followed that up with their first Junior Cup the following season the silverware built up massively over the years.

Recent times haven't been so fruitful; they last won a trophy in 2011-'12 when they claimed the Cawley and Ard na Cregg Cups, but success will surely be around the corner with the work that is going on behind the scenes.

And Tyerman is the central figure looking to bring this club back to the times when it dominated the domestic scene.

"When I came here first I bought into the Boys Club, and they are the most welcoming club I have ever been involved with," says Tyerman.

"OLBC have a mixture of lads playing with them from all over, and as a non-local myself, it was the perfect fit for me."

Irish Independent

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