Saturday 18 November 2017

Corrib RFC: Sharing resources to help grow the game

With solid foundations in place, buoyant north-west Galway club is ready to kick on to the next level, writes Ciarán McGreal

Corrib’s senior team. The club claimed its sole Connacht Junior Cup titile in 1994
Corrib’s senior team. The club claimed its sole Connacht Junior Cup titile in 1994

Ciarán McGreal

Corrib RFC was founded by a number of men from Galwegians RFC who decided to set up a rugby club in their native town of Headford.

Gerry Coen, Andy Reddington, Donal Halleran and John Cooke held a meeting in the town to get the ball rolling, and 12 people attended the second meeting. An idea carved during those long drives into Glenina suddenly had a buoyant club springing up on the fringes of Connemara.

PROPELLED

Current club president Mike Lee explains the founding of the club and the efforts of those four men, and how their early enthusiasm for the new club propelled them to rapid success.

"They played with Galwegians and they looked to set up their own club. Galwegians helped them along and they got registered in 1981 and played their first game," he says.

"As far as I know they went to Old Wesley to play their first game.

"Gerry Coen had good contacts in Dublin. It kicked on from there and they moved into the local league.

"They won that league in 1989 to go to the top division of Connacht rugby."

The north west Galway club won the Connacht Junior Cup for the first and only time in 1994 when they defeated Connemara.

Home for Corrib RFC is Presentation College Headford's grounds and together they are hoping to make developments to their facilities over the coming years.

"We have one main pitch and we have a training pitch which we're hoping to develop into another playing pitch," says Lee.

"We're right beside Presentation College. They're very good to us. We have a sand area for training as well.

"With all the teams we have at the moment, we hold a lot of matches. We're managing and we're hoping to get a bit of money from the Capital Sports Fund this year. We're going to develop the training pitch into a playing pitch and maybe develop a training area as well."

Corrib's senior team compete in Connacht Junior League Division 1C and are top of the table on the back of six wins from their eight games this season.

The club opened their campaign with a 20-17 loss away to Portumna but they won three on the bounce following that defeat.

A 25-11 away win against Westport got the ball rolling and a home victory over Carrick-on-Shannon (25-7) was followed up with a 27-3 away victory over Claremorris.

Dunmore edged out their Galway rivals 18-15 to put an end to Corrib's winning streak but Joe Murphy's side got their revenge with a narrow 20-18 win in the reverse fixture the following week.

SCORES

John McHugh captains the Corrib side and their last two games before Christmas saw the Headford side rack up big scores. Both games were at home and Corrib put Westport and Portumna to the sword with scorelines of 47-0 and 44-7 respectively.

As well as a thriving senior set-up, the club's underage structure boasts over 160 registered players. The minis section runs from U-8s to U-12s and the youth section comprises U-13s, U-15s and U-17s.

"The club's current U-17 side won the U-15 Development League last season," recalls Lee. "Then we moved up to the A level of rugby in Connacht but we went to U-17 because we needed to cater for older players.

"That team would be half and half, we'd have some U-16s and some U-17s on it. We're going well. We're holding our own. We've turned over Galwegians, Corinthians and Ballina.

"We were beaten by Buccaneers away but it's a great achievement for Corrib to be competing at that level."

Galway is both a football and hurling stronghold, meaning the rural rugby clubs have to compete with GAA clubs for players.

Corrib are surrounded by a number of GAA clubs and president Lee outlines the overlap of players.

"We have Headford GAA club; we use players from there," he explains. "We use players from Caherlistrane GAA club. We get a lot of players from there and Shrule/Glencorrib GAA club which is in Mayo and Annaghdown so we're pulling from four GAA clubs.

"It's just now that we've really got the full squad back in the two weeks before Christmas when the football finished. They go back training with their GAA clubs in February. The football league will be starting in March. We have a good soccer club in the town here as well, Moyne Villa soccer club, we have competition with them as well."

All rugby clubs around the country rely on fundraising to keep things ticking over. Corrib started running a lotto with their soccer neighbours Moyne Villa in 2010/11, and Lee feels this fundraising initiative is vital for the club.

"At the time we couldn't pay our debts so we started a lotto and slowly but surely it has built," he says.

"It's keeping us going. The town is good to us as well, all the business would look after us.

"When we do a fundraiser we get well looked after. It's a good town. We have about 12 guys from our club and about 12 guys from Moyne Villa and we sell the tickets in shops, pubs and post offices. We do the draw every Saturday night. It's good. It keeps us going."

The success of Connacht hasn't gone unnoticed in Corrib RFC and the club's underage players have participated in the half time minis games in the Sportsground over the years.

"We bring in the minis to play at half-time. We get there at least twice a year for that. It's great for them to get in there," says Lee.

"In all fairness to the Connacht Branch, they're doing a good job in that line. They facilitate everyone."

CORRIB RFC

Address: Presentation College, Headford, Co Galway

Founded: 1981

President: Mike Lee

Head coach: Joe Murphy

Captain: John McHugh

Twitter: @rfc_corrib

Website: http://www.corribrfc.com

Irish Independent

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