Club focus: Nenagh FC
Lighting up the way for future generations
Founded in 1884 Nenagh Ormond RFC was one of the first established rugby clubs in County Tipperary and one of the oldest in the country.
The club originally played in Daggs' field and in the 1950s relocated to Tyone where they still maintain training and playing facilities.
In 1984, in the clubs centenary year, Nenagh Ormond officially opened their current grounds at New Ormond Park, Lisatunny just outside the town.
Competing in Division 2B of the All-Ireland League, Nenagh remain unbeaten this season and are currently positioned top of the table.
After claiming the inaugural Cyril Fitzgerald Plate last season, the club are also focused on retaining their title when they take on Young Munster in the final in Dooradoyle on December 21.
The head coach and leading player is Derek Corcoran, who recently had the distinction of scoring his 50th try in the All-Ireland League.
Derek is ably assisted by forwards coach and two-time Heineken Cup winner – former Munster, Leinster and Ireland international Trevor Hogan. Both coaches are Nenagh men who have played at the top level of Irish rugby, which adds greatly to the sense of local pride and sense of community in the club.
"We became a senior club in season 2004/05 and have been knocking on the door for promotion ever since," said David Kennedy, the club president. We have had a great start this season and there is no doubt that advancing to Division 2A is on our minds.
"If you asked any of the players they will tell you their aim would be to get promoted this year and I am very hopeful that we will achieve our goal."
In their first home 'Friday Night Lights' fixture of the season Nenagh will take on recently promoted Richmond tonight and are looking forward to what promises to be a very enjoyable occasion for both clubs.
"We are looking forward to the match and are particularly excited about it being under lights," said Kennedy.
"We are expecting a large crowd and I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere at the game.
"There is a lot of history and tradition between the two clubs at junior level and this is the first time we will meet as senior clubs, so there should be a host of past heroes from both clubs present to support their teams."
Commenting on the club's progression, Kennedy states that Nenagh's coaching structures and player development, from youth level right through to their senior team, has been a primary contributor to the club's success.
"About two years ago we lost a lot of players, mainly to emigration, but also through retirements. Luckily, we had an abundance of talent in our U-20s, who duly progressed to our senior team. They were all local guys who came up through our youths structure.
"As well as Derek and Trevor, we are very proud of past player, Munster and Ireland international Donnacha Ryan, who started his rugby as a young boy at Nenagh. He still comes to the occasional game to support us when he can and often presents medals to our underage teams, or helps out at a coaching session, which gives the youngsters a lot of encouragement."
Speaking on the ongoing challenges for the club, Kennedy said: "Increasing the adult playing numbers is our greatest challenge. We struggle, in terms of depth, mainly with our senior seconds and it is often the case that our firsts have to pull from their squad.
"Like most clubs, raising finance through fundraising and sponsorship can be a challenge. That said, the whole Nenagh community are very supportive of the club and we have some really loyal and generous sponsors.
"In addition, we have a fantastic club committee behind us, who are very proactive in terms of developing new initiatives to raise funds, and their efforts are very much appreciated.
"There is also a huge level of support for the club in what is traditionally a GAA heartland, mainly because we have been around for over 100 years and people within the community are very proud of our achievements.
"Indeed, the amount of genuine goodwill we get from the community is phenomenal, not just from Nenagh town, but all the surrounding parishes that feed into the club."
With about 200 players in their mini section and competing from U-13s right up to U-20s, Nenagh Ormond continue to focus on player recruitment at age grade level and Theresa Hassey, the club secretary, is quick to pay tribute to the work done by the club's dedicated and hard-working juvenile committee and also by Pat Fitzpatrick, the club's Community Rugby Officer.
"Pat has been a huge resource for us in terms of getting young people involved in the game," said Hassey.
"Many of our youths are from more traditional GAA backgrounds and, indeed, from several different countries such as Moldova and Slovakia, where rugby wouldn't exactly be a popular sport.
"These players are coming through from the school system, which has been great for the development of our youth structure."
The club also field a successful women's team, who remain unbeaten in the AIL Division 2 this season.
With women's rugby increasing in popularity throughout the country, the club acknowledges the importance of growing the game at girls' level.
"Our immediate past-president Jennifer Donovan and PRO Eithne Darcy, who both also play on our senior team, have made huge strides in developing women's rugby in Nenagh and deserve a lot of credit for their contributions," said Hassey. "We have a relatively small playing squad, but all the ladies are incredibly committed. We would like to see more of them involved in playing the game and part of the club's longer term objective is to begin to field underage girls' teams."
As the club gear up for tonight's fixture, Theresa acknowledges the everyday work done by club members behind the scenes.
"Everything that is done for the club is done voluntarily – from lining the pitch to manning the scoreboard, cleaning out the dressing-rooms, etc., and we are currently very lucky to have dedicated people who offer up their time for our club, not to mention all those who have done this in the past to bring us to where we are today.
"After all, we are only the temporary caretakers of this club for future generations, and hopefully, we'll be able to make some improvements along the way.
"Tonight though we are really looking forward to a great game, and indeed, to all the remaining games in the AIL.
"And we are hopeful that we will be rewarded with a top-of-the- table finish to wrap up another successful season."