History makers Naas already looking to the future - Murphy
Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30
It's been a crucial couple of weeks for plenty of Leinster's AIL clubs as the business end of the season rolls around, and for Naas RFC last weekend signalled a historic moment.
A 33-10 victory at home to Skerries meant that the Kildare club won Division 2A and with it, promotion to Division 1B for the first time.
It's been an impressive season from start to finish for Naas as they continue to build on the steady progress that has been made in recent years.
This season saw former Leicester Tigers and Munster player Johne Murphy return to his roots and join the club on a full-time basis as a player/coach.
As a Kildare native and a former pupil of Newbridge College, Murphy's experience has been instrumental in ensuring that Naas will play against some of the country's most famous clubs next season.
The dust may have barely settled on last Saturday's famous victory but Murphy is already looking ahead to next season as he knows the scale of the task that awaits his side in what is a much tougher division.
"The step up is big," Murphy admitted. "You could be playing guys that are in Academy structures week-in, week-out.
"You could also be playing guys who are full-time professionals who are looking for some game time.
"We could be doing down to Thomond Park on a Friday night to play Shannon, which would be something that the lads would certainly enjoy.
"We're going up a level now so the level of commitment is probably going to have to go up another level.
"It's been fantastic up to now and it's been great to see the sacrifices that lads made this year, pay off."
As well as his role with Naas, Murphy also coached St Mary's College in this season's Leinster schools Senior Cup as he looks to forge a new career since retiring last June.
The next step for Naas is to consolidate themselves as a permanent fixture in Division 1B and Murphy is hopeful of attracting some of the club's former players back home.
"There's a huge amount of ex-Naas guys who started out their rugby career here before school that are playing in Division 1," he said.
"You've got the likes of Adam Byrne and these guys. Adam is on his progression into the professional ranks but guys like him and Craig Ronaldson, they're all Naas minis and then there's guys who are playing with Trinity and Lansdowne.
"They're all Naas guys and if we can tap into a few of them and bring a couple of those experienced players back to play with their home club at one of the highest levels in club rugby, it would be quite attractive for them.
"They'd be like me, coming back to the club and playing with guys that they would know since they were seven or eight when they first picked up a ball.
"There's also that emotional attachment to the rugby club for some of these guys that have been keeping an eye on the progression of Naas.
"Hopefully in the future they can come back and enjoy Naas being at the top table of club rugby in Ireland."