UL Bohs in rush to get back to the top flight
Club Focus: UL Bohemian
Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30
Despite being located in the rugby-mad city of Limerick, up until 1999 the University of Limerick did not have a competitive rugby team. This was remedied when the university amalgamated with Bohemian RFC to become UL Bohemian RFC.
Bohemian RFC was originally founded in 1922 and the new partnership with UL was established with a view to producing players that would go on to play senior representative rugby.
The university has its own teams nowadays but the relationship between the club and university remains strong.
UL Bohs' senior side play in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B and have made a brilliant start to the season. The club have won all four of their games to date, posting big scores in each game.
In the first game of the season, Christy Neilan's side were away to Dolphin and the Limerick side won 41-10.
Two home wins against Ballynahinch (38-22) and Old Wesley (29-21) followed before another away victory over Galwegians (27-23).
This weekend sees Bohs take on Ulster side Ballymena as the club look to maintain their winning streak. The senior team have been playing on the University of Limerick's 4G pitch this season.
Club PRO Tony Quilty notes the importance of the club's brilliant start to the season. "We've been using the 4G pitch particularly this season for our senior games and we have 19 points out of 20 so I think we'll be sticking with it!
"We struggled last season in terms of not getting points early on in the season and then having to come down to the last day of the season to keep ourselves in the division which is terrible pressure. But this year, we've got off at a great pace and it's looking good, thank God!"
Munster scrum-half Cathal Sheridan has been a key man for Bohs this season but unfortunately the Sligo native broke his leg in the win away to Galwegians.
It was a real setback for the talented No 9 who had forced his way into Rassie Erasmus' European squad, but Quilty reckons he'll bounce back from this latest setback.
"Cathal has made a huge difference to us being the standard of player that he is. We're going to have to plan without him now for the next couple of months, so we'll see how we do without him. But he's been a very important feature of the season so far."
The club's underage set-up runs from U-6s to U-18s while the club also has an U-20 side.
Over 350 underage players are registered with the club. Packie Durkan is the club's U-6s coach and PRO Quilty stresses his importance to the club.
"Packie has been running the U-6s for a good number of years. He introduces them to skills and tries to keep order by using very imaginative drills! We refer to that as the Durkan Academy!"
UL Bohs have had a number of recent Irish internationals with Tommy O'Donnell, Dave Kilcoyne and Dave Foley all lining out for Ireland in recent years. All three of these players are also key men in the Munster set-up.
Openside flanker O'Donnell has 12 caps to his name having made his debut off the bench against the USA in June 2013 on the Irish tour to America. A week later, O'Donnell bagged his first Irish try against Canada.
Dave Kilcoyne is a loosehead prop and has won 16 caps for Ireland since making his debut in 2012 as a replacement against South Africa. Kilcoyne scored a try for Ireland against Georgia in the 2014 Guinness Series, the same day that his fellow Bohs man Dave Foley made his Ireland debut.
The Tipperary native was named man of the match as Ireland romped to a 49-7 victory. The second of Foley's caps came the following week against Australia.
Jack O'Donoghue is another Bohs representative in the Munster squad. The Waterford man made his Munster debut in 2014 and was involved with Ireland's Six Nations training squad last season.
The flanker will hope to make the breakthrough and win his first senior cap over the coming years.
Another former international from UL Bohs is Barry Murphy. The former centre retired from rugby in 2011 due to injury but appeared four times for Ireland during his career.
He currently plays in popular Limerick band Hermitage Green, but Quilty insists Murphy's continued involvement with the club did not end when he retired from the game.
"Barry, when he's not playing with Hermitage Green, still does a bit of coaching with the senior side of the club. Barry is a lad that came through and went from underage to international.
"His father, Mike, was a former senior player and he was manager of the senior team last year.
"His brother, Brian, was manager of the seconds at one stage. They're a family steeped in the tradition of Munster."
Clubman Martin O'Sullivan became the 128th president of the IRFU in 2015. Sligo-born O'Sullivan became the first Bohs man to be president since Dom Dineen who served as president of the IRFU in 1971/'72.
O'Sullivan played his club rugby with Bohs before moving to Cork for work commitments. He played with Dolphin in Cork before moving back to Limerick where he coached Bohs' first team from 1989-'91.
O'Sullivan also played a key role in the establishment of the club's women's set-up. The club's women's team are a leading light in the game and have won 11 All-Ireland League titles and Niamh Briggs, the current Ireland women's captain, plays her club rugby with the Limerick side.
Ireland's women's squad have enjoyed plenty of success in recent seasons. Tom Tierney's side won the Six Nations in 2015 and also secured a famous Grand Slam Six Nations Championship victory in 2013.
UL Bohemian RFC
Address: Thomond Park, Limerick & Anacotty, Co Limerick
Famous players: Tommy O'Donnell, Dave Kilcoyne, Dave Foley, JJ Hanrahan, Jack O'Donoghue, Barry Murphy, Mossy Lawler
Head coach: Christy Neilan
Captain: Ian Condell
Club President: Sean O'Gorman