Experienced Hynes helps Garden County outfit to blossom
CCRO focus: Barney Hynes, Arklow RFC
As far as experience in the job goes, Barney Hynes is up there at the top of the list. He may have been a blow-in to many in Arklow but he has gone on to be an integral part of the club down through the years.
He has been in his role as club community rugby officer (CCRO) since 2011, making him one of the longest- serving in the province.
Hynes has been involved in rugby all his life and after starting off his career over his decades ago, it all came full circle for him at the turn of the millennium as he entered the coaching world.
"I started playing rugby in Presentation Bray at minis in 1969 and finished playing in 2000, so I played rugby in five decades," he said.
"The reason I retired was my four-year-old son needed a coach so that is where the coaching began. I coached that team from U-6 to U-19 and I have been involved in coaching since then up and down the ranks, boys and girls."
He recalls his playing days with great fondness and it is clear that he holds a huge passion for the game that arrived from playing and coaching.
He was successful too while between the white lines and represented numerous teams before moving and settling in Arklow.
"I played schools in Presentation Bray and was on the Senior Cup team. Then I played for Greystones U-19s and we were McCorry Cup semi-finalists.
"I played two seasons with Clondalkin, then moved to Arklow and joined in 1979, I haven't had a day off since and don't want one.
"I still get the same buzz to this day. I was lucky with Arklow as I won all that you could win with them.
"The South East Cup, Provincial Towns Cup and there was an Oval trophy back then where the four provincial winners would play two semis and an All-Ireland final. We were lucky to beat Thomond RFC in the final.
His role as CCRO is about spreading the game to as many kids as possible in the area with the hope that they will show an interest in it and come down to the club.
A club needs to stay pro-active and keep their minis section vibrant and Barney Hynes has a big role to play in making sure of that.
Numbers are up across the board and that progress is plain to see. There can be huge competition for time and resources within schools but, to his credit, Hynes has built up relationships with the various schools.
"I have to say that the schools are great and very accommodating. I coach in 14 national schools, and four secondary schools.
"The national schools are Aughrim, Avoca, Annacurra, Carysfort, Barndarrig, Ballycoog, Gaelscoil an Inbhir Mhóir, Kilcommon, St John's, St Joseph's Templerainey, Redcross, Tinahely and St Michael's/St Peter's, while the secondary schools are Arklow CBS, Glenart College, Gaelcholáiste na Mara and St Mary's Girls School."
Schools in the area are progressing not only in the numbers participating but also in the level of competition they are competing in, as Hynes explains.
"This year we had Arklow CBS taking part in 3A Junior Cup (and) reached the quarter-final.
"We have also started a south-east development league for junior, first to third year, that is starting next week so that guarantees the boys rugby right until March.
"Girls rugby is also on the rise in the schools. I have a junior team in Gaelcholáiste na Mara and a junior and senior team in St Mary's Girls School while we are working hard in Glenart College where numbers continue to grow."
The success in the schools has also had a knock-on effect with the club, and their minis and youths section are a thriving part of the club.
"I was talking to our chairman just last week and he said to me that when he arrived at Arklow Rugby Club nine years ago that there were no youth teams in Arklow.
"Now we have a full complement of minis plus youths team from U-13 to U-16 boys and U-12 girls to U-18s girls.
"I couldn't do my job without the help and support of everyone in Arklow RFC, Leinster Rugby, Wicklow County Council, the principals and the wonderful teachers who have all given me great support down through the years."
Established in 1936, Arklow Rugby Club have a proud history in Leinster junior rugby. The club has competed in four Provincial Towns Cup finals despite their first two appearances ending in defeat in 1968 and 1974.
Success was imminent however, and in 1985 Arklow RFC defeated Drogheda 9-6 to land the prestigious trophy.
Nineteen years later in 2004, Arklow repeated the feat when they got the better of Portlaoise in the final on a scoreline of 8-3.
In addition, the club has secured numerous South East, J1 and J2 Leagues over the years.
Successful former players include Shane Byrne who represented Leinster more than 100 times, amassed 41 caps for Ireland and a Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005.
From the ladies section of the club, their most notable player is Germaine Healy, who was capped for Ireland and has experience of coaching in Australia.