Tuesday 16 October 2018

'We finished last year with six different trophies'

Club Focus: North Meath RFC

The North Meath women’s team pictured before a recent win over Dundalk
The North Meath women’s team pictured before a recent win over Dundalk
North Meath’s promising U-15 team
A group of local fifth and sixth class pupils who attended a blitz in North Meath RFC

Brian Lowry

Formed only 10 years ago, North Meath RFC have gone from strength to strength in that time - on and off the field.

Based in the Kells area of Co Meath, the club pulls from a wide catchment area with young future stars of Leinster and Ireland travelling from as far as 20 miles away to train and line out for the club.

Back in 2007, a group came together with the common goal of creating a rugby outlet for the area. Indeed, the good fortunes of the club and its growth is a testament to the work being done to keep the club thriving.

Before the club was set up, players from the area were travelling to the likes of Navan RFC and Virginia RFC to satisfy their rugby demands. Much earlier than that, there was rugby in Kells back in the 1920s. The club had to disband but came again in the 1940s before falling away again.

Jack Kenny is the club chairman of North Meath RFC and he explains the thinking behind setting up the club back in 2007.

"The club would have been founded on the back of a number of lads who would have played for Navan or Virginia and just felt that there was a demand in the area and that there were kids there that for some reason wouldn't be able to get to the likes of Navan but that if there was club more locally, they would get involved. There would have been a history of rugby in Kells.

"The grounds are near Kells but we are getting kids from all over North Meath and into Cavan. There are some kids travelling up to a 40-mile round trip to play with the club. We have a massive catchment area."

combined Fast forward to today and the club are fielding nine teams from U-13 right up to adult level. Along with their senior men's and women's teams, they have U-18, U-17, U-15, U-14 and U-13 boys teams while also catering for the girls with an U-12 team and 16s with their U-18 girls combined with Navan RFC.

The club boasts upwards of 250 youth members and 50 senior members and had a particularly good season last year, according to Jack Kenny.

"Last season ended up being a good season. We finished with six different trophies," he says.

"Our underage teams won four trophies, with The U-15s winning Leinster and Schools youths, our Seniors won the McGee Cup and were promoted up a Division."

This season has also started well, both on and off the field. In a new venture for the club, women's rugby was introduced and it has taken off extremely well with high numbers lining out for the club.

"We only started Women's Rugby this year," explains Kenny. "This is their first season. It came from the drive of the executive.

"Some of our executive would have been involved with the girls game in other clubs and it was a natural progression in the development of the club for us to have our own women's and girls teams.

"When they started recruiting, all of a sudden a lot of girls came along and it is a strong aspect in the club now."

Another boost off the field came in the past week with the announcement of the Sports Capital funding and North Meath were delighted to be awarded €75,000. This money is a massive boost to the club and Jack Kenny believes it will be vital for them in their bid to upgrade their facilities.

"We have been awarded €75,000 from the Sports Capital Funding last week and we are hoping to develop two pitches, dressing rooms and new shower facilities. At the moment we have a first and a second pitch, a small clubhouse and two dressing rooms."

Like many clubs in the province, there is a strong local and community-based ethos in the club. North Meath RFC is immersed in the community and has a real family sense of place, according to Kenny

"We have a very strong working committee. Family and community is a big part of the club.

"We are heavily involved in the local community and our facilities are available to everyone. We host all the school rugby matches and we do whatever we can to help out everyone.

"We don't mind what shape of a ball is being kicked on the grass as long as someone is doing something.

"We would be different than a lot of clubs in Leinster in the sense that we have a lot of players that play with us from a non-rugby-playing background."

With so many sports now on offer, the challenge to attract and keep players is constant but with a close relationship with the schools and other sporting organisations in the area, they look well set up to carry on their impressive work.

While the committee and team on the ground put in the hard yards, Jack Kenny is keen to point out the impact that their local Club Community Rugby Officer has had on the club.

"We have a very good CCRO who does an awful lot of work on the ground; Ben Traynor is working really hard for the club and for the province.

"We have also had great support from the branch with Billy Phelan and Colin O'Hare always available if and when we need them.

"Jenny Bagnall has also been a great help to us in getting our women's section off the ground .

"And without our team sponsors we would be really struggling - the Westway Bar here in Kells, Kiernan's Bar in Carlantown and LMC Energy, these companies have being stalwart supporters of the club over the last number of years."

They may not have the same history or rugby pedigree as some of the more traditional clubs in the province but the work is being put in and success on and off the field looks sure to grace them in the future.

North Meath RFC

Founded: 2007

Grounds: The Grange , Carlanstown ,Kells .

Division: Leinster league Division 2B

Youths and Minis: U-12 to U-18

Club Men's Captain: Carlos Buckley.

Club Women's Captain: Sarah Woodroffe

Club President: Des Fitzgerald

Club Chairman: Jack Kenny

Next week's club focus features Swords RFC

Irish Independent

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