Saturday 18 November 2017

Fun ethos helps keep flame alive in Kerry heartland

Club Focus: Listowel RFC

Listowel U-7s celebrating after a successful blitz recently in Caherciveen
Listowel U-7s celebrating after a successful blitz recently in Caherciveen
Listowel U-18 girls before playing their first ever league game earlier this season. They narrowly lost out to St Mary’s/Abbeyfeale on the day.
Listowel U-14s proudly showing off this season's new kit

The game of rugby has a long and proud history in the north Kerry town of Listowel.

The first rugby club in the town was formed in 1899 and the club's success has ebbed and flowed since then with sides enjoying success in the two West Munster competitions, winning the McElligott and Galwey Foley Cups on various occasions.

Past players at Listowel RFC include writer John B Keane and GAA and Aussie rules star Tadhg Kennelly. Membership at the club is on the rise with a large group of fully qualified coaches keen to volunteer their time with the club's young players.

The club is thriving at mini and underage level and now caters for 250 players with the numbers growing every year. The club is fielding mixed mini rugby teams at all age groups from U-6s to U-12s and at youth level they field boys' teams at U-14, 15, 16 and 18s. One of the big success stories of the club is the girls' section which began in 2013 with teams at U-13, U-15 and U-18 level.

The club members were delighted to have one of their U-18 girls, Jamie Mullins, recently included in the Munster U-18 squad.

Club president Andy Smith explained the secret to the club's success in the girls' section: "There's been a huge explosion in players and the girls absolutely love rugby. We've linked in with all the schools in North Kerry with the help of Amanda Greensmith and we now actually organise a North Kerry Girls Junior and Senior Plate competitions.


"We organise that as an annual event with all the schools in north Kerry. At the moment we're the only functioning girls team in Kerry and we'd have players from Tralee and Castleisland playing with our squads.

"And once you get the girls section going, it does attract a few boys to come in! Our numbers are very good considering we're in the GAA heartland here in North Kerry," he added.

The boys sides aren't too badly themselves with the U-16 side lifting the West Munster Cup last season. One area that the club are hoping to improve on are the facilities and they are looking to develop their own ground within the town.

They currently rent two pitches from Kerry County Council and Kerry Group but, with the club now catering for 250 players and numbers growing yearly, the development of new grounds would be a great boost, as Smith explains.

"We're hoping to have an announcement in the near future regarding permanent grounds. If that comes off we'll be launching a big fundraising drive to develop the facilities," he says. "The idea is that we'd develop community fields and during the summer months they can be used by the local cricket club, athletics club and GAA club to get more use. That's the next big thing and we're waiting to hear news within the next month.

"There has been a big buy-in from the local community in North Kerry and West Limerick. Our club membership has soared and sponsorships have increased."

Like many clubs outside of the bigger cities in Ireland, Listowel have been badly affected by the economic situation and the exodus of players due to a lack of jobs.

This forced the club to regretfully withdraw their senior team earlier this season although they are hopeful that the team can be resurrected next season.

Smith says: "We might try next year but we've been decimated by players going away. We're in the same position as many clubs. Castleisland have lost their second team, Tralee are struggling to put the one team out. There's no employment here.

"We have a lot of players coming through the underage they're going to college and they're still playing rugby but they're not going to return to Kerry at the moment. We've produced an awful lot of players over the last few seasons and very few came through into our senior team."

Despite these setbacks, Listowel RFC is very much as a community club and the overriding ethos is on having fun. Throughout the season there are many social events organised with quiz nights, barbecues, Christmas parties, beach tag rugby, family fun days, awards nights and regular trips to watch Munster in Thomond Park.

The youth section also go on an end-of-season tour with the annual social night one of the highlights of the year.

New members are always welcome and anyone wishing to play can email or telephone Andy Smith on 087 9673708.

Mental skills workshop proves a winner

Daragh Small

Sports psychologist Tadgh MacIntyre recently conducted a Mental Skills workshop with the members of the Greencore Munster Academy.

MacIntyre said he believes it can be of huge benefit to the players as they develop their careers.

MacIntyre focuses on how the mind can affect a player's thought process and helps them understand their psychological literacy.

Also known as 'Mind Matters Resilience Training' the study translates to three main areas - on the pitch, off the pitch (in their study and work) and also in their personal lives.

"We're looking at players being content within the bubble of rugby, but also having something strong and meaningful outside of that bubble.

"Outside the bubble, it's really important for Academy players to have some form of career dimension - ideally at college as that connects them to others in their peer group outside of rugby circles.

"That way it's less likely to feel isolated outside of the sport," he said.

MacIntyre said that it was also important that players know they can rely on other players, especially in a team sport environment.

"Each participant has a player buddy - a team-mate they can rely on. In rugby you are required to perform as a team, in units and sometimes as pairs and an individual.

"We use that dynamic as a turn-key to them learning new things and to help one another take on new challenges," he said.

The workshop was well received by the young players.

Positive feedback from UL course participants

The Munster Rugby Coach Development Department co-ordinated very successful Mini and Foundation Coaching Courses in UL last weekend. Over 50 coaches from schools and clubs across north Munster attended the two-day IRFU Stage 1 and Stage 2 Courses.

The feedback from the participants has been hugely positive and our Coach Development Department will continue to support these coaches in their clubs and schools.

Munster Rugby would like to thank all the excellent support tutors who assisted in making these courses so successful.

The two-day Mini Coaching Courses are designed for coaches of Mini rugby (6yrs-12yrs) where players are being introduced to rugby for the first time and participating in games of reduced numbers (8s, 10s and 12-a-side).

The focus is on safety & enjoyment with the coach acting as 'guide' in a player-centred process.

Developing players' all-round skills and game-understanding with an emphasis on Physical Literacy appropriate to the stages of development of each individual are the key technical, tactical & physical module objectives. The course develops the coach as 'Guide' and costs €65.

The two-day Foundation Coaching Courses are an introduction to the 15-a-side game for coaches and helpers with limited experience in rugby.

Safety and enjoyment are in the main themes of the course and it's suited for people working with pre-teenage and adolescent players. The course develops the coach as 'Teacher' and costs €65.

Email to book your place on a coaching course or call 021 432 3563.

Irish Independent

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