Wednesday 23 January 2019

Toolan on centre stage as Corinthians double up

Club news

Claire Toolan refereeing the U-13 Boys Cup final. Photo: INPHO
Claire Toolan refereeing the U-13 Boys Cup final. Photo: INPHO

The last three underage cup finals of the season took place on Sunday with three well-contested deciders at The Sportsground.

The day began with the U-13 final where a brilliant defensive effort from Corinthians helped them to the spoils despite a determined effort from Sligo who had the majority of possession throughout the game. The sides were level at a try apiece at the break before an Adam Huban try early in the second half secured Corinthians a 10-5 win.

Next up was the U-15 decider as Ballina capped off a brilliant weekend with a 22-5 victory over Galwegians. It was Wegians who got the opening score with Ballina responding through Alex Hennigan after the break. Further scores late in the game from John Ginty and Sam Callinan were enough to claim the win.

The last decider came in the U-17 Cup when Corinthians won their second final of the day with a deserved 18-10 win over a fancied Ballinasloe side. Two penalties in the final quarter from Cathal Forde helped Corinthians maintain their lead as Ballinasloe attempted to get back into it.

Referee for the U-13 final was Claire Toolan, one of a number of female members of the Association of Referees Connacht Branch (ARCB) who have made big strides in the past season. .

"My dad is a referee in the Ulster Society and due to an injury I wanted to give refereeing a try," Toolan said. "The success of Helen O'Reilly and Joy Neville prove that there are no barriers to women taking their places as referees at the top level of rugby. Whether in the women's and men's game, they are respected top referees. This was also a great inspiration."

Work commitments allowed Claire to transfer to ARCB from Ulster and she has been delighted with the support she has received. "The welcome I have received from ARCB has been overwhelming and from the first day I have been treated as an equal. The training and opportunities I have received have been fantastic. The reaction from all the clubs players, coaches and spectators has been welcoming and gracious."

Claire also highlighted that becoming a referee is easier than most would expect.

"My advice would be to any ladies who are even slightly interested, to give refereeing a try. You will be welcomed into ARCB by everyone. Extensive training is provided to get you started. Ongoing coaching is readily available and at a very professional level. The reward of refereeing and the self-satisfaction of enjoying a game of rugby, the thanks you receive and staying fit makes it all a very worthwhile experience!"

If you are interested in joining our refereeing ranks, please contact Luke Murphy in Connacht Rugby on 091 561568 or

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