Toiling on and off the field to keep club moving forward
Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30
At 35 years of age, Presentation RFC's Shane Enright assumes responsibility both on and off the pitch in his dual role of player and president with Limerick's oldest Junior club.
After first taking to the field with Presentation, a move to the northside of Limerick saw him move to Thomond RFC while still at underage level.
Going on to represent Thomond in the senior ranks, Enright would eventually return to his original club in what would be a fruitful move that saw him and his Presentation team-mates win five trophies in two years.
With the club winning promotion from Division 3 to Division 2, accolades included the Martin O'Sullivan Cup and the Junior Challenge Cup.
A natural leader, the second-row and former club captain discusses his decision to undertake both playing and administrative roles, and the club's vision as its centenary approaches next season.
"There are three underage teams at the moment - U-15s, U-16s and U-18s. At one stage we had ten and that's the reason why I got involved in the committee, to help save the underage. We want to bring it from Minis right up to U-20s, adding teams bit by bit.
"As well as young players, we need a new wave of coaches, which is why we've approached those in their mid to late 30s who have been talking about retiring - keeping them involved with the club by coaching the next generation of players. People like John Whelan, Ollie Delaney, Dave Lyons, Christie Cox and Donnacha O'Grady are underage coaches that previously played with the club.
"Similarly, we've brought in some young lads on the committee and mixed it with the experience that has been there all along.
"Combining new and existing talent has helped us progress and modernise the club. For example, our new treasurer John Higgins is an accountant and has the specific skill-set for the job.
"That's where the big drive is on and we have a two to three -year plan.
"In the medium to long term we plan to celebrate our centenary in black-tie fashion next year, save our underage structure and win promotion to J1."
Combining the roles of player and president might seems like a daunting task to most, but for Enright, it's the club's continued advancement, and that of other clubs, that fuels his enthusiasm for such a busy role.
"It's a tough balance. We train Tuesday and Thursday nights, with a committee meeting before training on Tuesday. I have to switch from one side to the other - it's like having a split personality!" he says.
"From a playing point of view alone it's hard to keep up with the young lads, but I love the club and I love seeing the progression. I know at some stage I'll have to give up the playing but for now I'm going to play for as long as I can.
"For a long time now I've seen Newcastle West, St Mary's and Richmond progress, and I know that Pres can get to that level.
"It's my 17th season with the lads and I have a lot of friends there. They've all been brilliant over the years and to have us all rowing in together makes the role so much easier."
Presentation's progressiveness is also evident in its co-operation with Richmond at underage level where the U-14s of both clubs (now U-15s) combined forces under the guise of Presmond. It was a mutually beneficial move that's seen them remain undefeated since their formation.
Founded in a house on Sexton Street, Limerick in 1917, the club's founders were debating possible names for their new club when they noticed the Presentation Girls School across the road and hence Presentation RFC was born.
Just shy of 100 years on, and now located on 10 acres of land in Ballysheedy, the club boasts two pitches and a training ground as well as a new two-storey clubhouse with a fully equipped gym, four dressing-rooms and a referees' room.
On top of its fixed assets is the exemplary drive of the club's volunteers, coaches and players alike, a drive that's personified by the likes of Enright himself, John Higgins, Dave O'Shea, Jerry Flannery Snr (trustee), Christy O'Conor, Brendon O'Callahan, Barry Brosnan, Gary Lawlor, Barry O'Shea, Dave Lyons, Brendan Fleming and many more.
Were they around today, the club's founders couldn't but be proud of Presentation's ambition, family ethos and work in the community - a legacy that will extend long beyond next season's century milestone.