Leamy work paying off for rising Clonmel
Clonmel RFC recently reclaimed their Munster Junior League Division 1 title and will represent Munster in the round robin playoffs against the other provisional junior league winners, with promotion to the All-Ireland League on the line.
The club made history last year by winning the league for the first time and recently claimed a bonus-point win over Muskerry in Cork to make it a two in a row, boasting 11 league wins in 13 games throughout their campaign.
With a successful underage system, Clonmel are continuing to develop players feeding into their seniors, which club president Billy Burke said has been the main contributing factor towards their many recent successes.
"Three seasons ago, we came second in the league and won the Munster Junior Cup. We claimed the Munster Junior Challenge Cup last season, as well as the league title, and this year retained it for a second year in a row, so the consistency has been remarkable.
"We were able to retain most of our squad from last year but had a number of injuries at the start of the season.
"We brought a number of seconds through who were able to step up to the mark and keep us in the hunt.
"Every player that played in our first team came up through our underage system which we are very proud of and I believe gave us an edge," he continued.
Leading from the front, former Munster and Ireland back-row Denis Leamy assumed the role of head coach three seasons ago and Burke said that he has continued to inspire the players on and off the pitch.
"Denis has brought a lot of silverware to the club and there is no doubt that he is the catalyst for our success.
"He brought a fantastic professionalism and ethos to Clonmel and instilled all his experience and values that he had from playing with Munster and Ireland into the club's structures.
"Denis is a great guy to have involved in the club and has the utmost respect from all our trainers, committees and volunteers, for his approach in the way he does things and his contributions have been invaluable."
Finishing second in the round robin last season, Clonmel narrowly failed to gain promotion to the senior ranks. Burke said that the club will put that disappointment behind them as they prepare for their first match against Leinster winners Enniscorthy, at home on April 2.
"Once you get into that position you have to seize the opportunity, give it a go and aim to go senior," he said.
"Once you win the league you have to look forward and hopefully this year we'll achieve our goal."
"At the moment it's all positive. My tenure as president finished in May but it's been a great two years - we've been very lucky and long may it continue for Clonmel RFC.
Ulster Bank League round robin qualifiers
Saturday, April 2: Clonmel v Enniscorthy, Bangor v Westport
Saturday, April 9: Westport v Clonmel, Enniscorthy v Bangor
Saturday, April 16: Enniscorthy v Westport, Clonmel v Bangor
Saturday, April 23: Playoff v 9th in Division 2C.