Enniscorthy RFC: Bright times ahead for leading light in south-east
Purple patch on field has game thriving in Wexford town but now they're hungry for more success, writes Brian Lowry
More than 100 years in existence, Enniscorthy RFC stands today as the standard-bearer for rugby in Wexford.
Founded in 1912, 2012 was a special year for the club as not only did they celebrate 100 years but they also claimed the prestigious Provincial Towns Cup for the sixth time, having also been the first club to win it back in 1926.
A family-orientated and all-inclusive set-up, the club pulls in members from Enniscorthy and the surrounding areas while catering for all ages, with their minis section a real success story.
Sunday mornings are a hive of activity in the club.
Led by minis co-ordinator David Bolger, a large team of hard-working and rugby-loving coaches take care players from U-7 to U-12.
This includes underage girls' rugby.
The last few years have seen a rise of interest and activity in the girls' section and with that came success last season with the U-16 and U-18s landing Leinster titles for the first time.
The time and dedication, which has been led by Myra Kelly at youths level and Jane Mythen at minis level, has been fantastic.
They have brought some of the best coaching talent in the club on board, led by John Bolger.
The club looks forward to John's influence on women's rugby in the club equalling his contribution to youth rugby in the 2008-2010 period.
At the same time that Tadhg Furlong was coming into sight in neighbouring New Ross, John Bolger, Pat Kelly and Liam Spratt were the central figures in a golden era for Enniscorthy RFC at U-16 and U-18 level, including wins in the U-16 McCauley Cup and the U-18 Culleton Cup (overall Leinster champion cups).
Larry Mackey, Mark O'Donohoe and Paul McCrea are the three people who in recent times and today take on the key role of co-ordinating the boys' youth section, helped by many hard-working coaches.
They give the opportunity to so many young players to enjoy everything that is so special about rugby and build the future of the club.
This success was the foundation of the most recent purple patch at senior level.
A number of the players on the firsts and seconds today come from those teams and the club prides itself on its ability to grow and retain home-grown talent as the foundation of the team.
Last year's captain Daniel Pim, Tom Ryan and David O'Dwyer are perfect examples of that home-grown talent.
They are joined by other younger talent like Jim White (Irish underage International), Nick Doyle, Joe Carley and also very importantly by some more experienced hands, led by this year's captain, Ivan Poole.
Killian Lett is another player who brings a depth of experience to the club, having also represented Ireland and played in the top echelons of the All Ireland League.
John 'Spud' Murphy, capped for Leinster and Ireland, is the director of rugby in the club.
Alongside him, Declan O'Brien, also capped for Leinster, has played a huge part in his capacity as player and coach in the recent successes of the senior squad.
Since 2012, the club have been on a crest of a wave.
They won the Provincial Towns Cup in 2012 and in 2015 (seventh overall), while they also lived up to their billing as cup specialists by landing the All Ireland Junior Cup in 2014 and 2016.
In 2016 they also landed the Leinster League Division 1A title but they narrowly missed out on promotion to the senior ranks.
The Provincial Towns Seconds Cup was also won in 2016 and this period in general also saw a host of regional and provincial success for their adult sides.
This season may almost be drawing to a close but there is still a lot to play for.
They sit second in Division 1A of the Leinster League, behind Ashbourne, but there are three games left for Enniscorthy to mount a charge and that starts with an away date with Monkstown tomorrow.
Last weekend they also booked their passage into the Towns Cup quarter-final as Poole starred in their defeat of Longford to set up a quarter-final tussle with Clondalkin.
At underage level, teams are going well at many age grades in the league with cup competitions still to come.
Enniscorthy RFC is also used as the training centre of excellence by the south-east clubs including Enniscorthy.
This is where Leinster bring the young talent together from each region, culminating in the competition each year for the Shane Horgan Cup.
The club are extremely proud that Leinster Rugby can avail of their facilities in this way.
Tony Ensor, capped 22 times for Ireland, played for Enniscorthy RFC after retiring from international rugby.
He subsequently gave great service to the club in his capacity both as chairman and president.
Enniscorthy are a club on the up on and off the field.
Their central location in the town has helped them have a strong presence in the community and all that is good about the Wexford town.
A new clubhouse was opened in 2005 and Enniscorthy have worked hard on forging links in the community, especially with other sporting codes in the town such as the GAA and hockey clubs.
Grounds: Ross Road, Enniscorthy
Division: Leinster League Division 1A
Captain: Ivan Poole
President: Andrew Owen