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Building on a proud pedigree in shadow of the big boys

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Our Lady's Boys Club

Our Lady's Boys Club

Our Lady's Boys Club

Our Lady's Boys Club

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Our Lady's Boys Club

One of Galway city's four rugby clubs, Our Lady's Boys Club celebrates its 60th Jubilee next year, a milestone very much to the fore as this winter winds to a close.

Nestled in the lap of Connacht Rugby's HQ, OLBC or 'Boys Club' hosts visitors at the side pitch, a stretch of turf trod on by some of world rugby's very best.

During Connacht's Heineken Cup campaigns, those included French and England captains Thierry Dusautoir and Chris Robshaw, as well as Mike Brown, Joe Marler, Greig Laidlaw and Jonny May.

A select few of the above internationals also got to sit in Paki Curran's dressing-room seat!

OLBC has long been a staple of the Connacht Junior League's Division 1A clique but will drop next season in order to rebuild dwindling player ranks.

A mixture of player retirements and overseas travel conspired against OLBC defending the Cawley Cup having won it over Loughrea in 2012, but the Second XV's hopes reclaiming the Ard na Cregg (Division 2 competition) remain alive.

OLBC's Killian O'Brien held the trophy aloft in 2012 for the first time in three decades.

Traditionally, Boys Club drew ranks from Lough Atalia, Bohermore, The Claddagh and Mervue. More recently, several Castlegar hurlers took to rugby in white and blue in their off-season, and OLBC was also a popular choice with several overseas players from New Zealand, France and South Africa in the past 15 years.

Finest

Blessed with access to some of the finest rugby facilities in Ireland, OLBC has a proud rugby pedigree forged over 60 years.

It's unofficial second homes are the Westside Pitch on the Thomas Hynes Road, and Crowe's Bar on Prospect Hill.

OLBC contested for AIL senior club honours in 2014 having qualified as the highest-placed Connacht Junior club on league competition merits.

While unsuccessful, OLBC acquitted themselves admirably in two of the three clashes against Munster and Ulster rivals separated by little more than a single score.

The final fixture against Leinster Junior club rugby heavyweights Wanderers was played on The Aviva Stadium's synthetic side pitch.

While 2015's impending relegation will deny us an opportunity to compete in the All-Ireland Junior Cup next year, OLBC were a fairly regular first-round feature recently. OLBC's solid league finishes earned the club outings against Newcastle West in October last year, Kilfeacle & District RFC in 2013 and Belfast's Cooke in 2012.

As the Connacht Junior season kicks off in earnest next month OLBC boasts only four hopefuls this winter in lock/loosie Sean Connolly and prop forwards Paul McCreanor, Paki Curran and Ger Fahy.

Former Connacht Juniors from OLBC's ranks include Willie Cullinane, Paki, Liamey and Johnny Curran, Greg Faherty, Luke O'Donnell, Dave Prior ,Eamonn 'Hairy' Dowling, current director of rugby Simon Lawless, Ciaran Coyle, Donncha Carey, Shaney Connors, Conor Mulligan, Pete Cosgrove, Paul McCreanor, James Moran, James Walsh and Dave Dooley.

Beyond boots and balls, OLBC's annual Aran Island Cycle continues to prove popular in early summer, the Crowes Bar-hosted Cheltenham Race Day just last week, and the Six Nations Aviva Stadium pilgrimage.

OLBC is proudly supported by a raft of volunteers and committee members, and sponsors: Crowe's Bar Prospect Hill, The Western Hotel, Advertees, Sporting Occasions (Jonathan Curran), The Stock Exchange and Finches (beverages).

Irish Independent