Girls putting shoulder to wheel for Mallow
Mallow RFC girls have had a season to remember, claiming both the Munster U-15 and U-18 league titles.
Last September Mallow players Irene Herlihy and Niamh O'Sullivan represented Ireland U-19s in Sevens rugby at the Sainsbury schools games, while the club is currently represented by nine players in the Munster U-18 squad, with club member O'Sullivan given the role of vice-captain.
Mallow's U-15 girls finished runners-up in the annual Munster Rugby Clubs Sevens competition earlier in the year, with the U-18s claiming third place. Both the U-15 and U-18 sides are unbeaten this season and currently top their respective leagues.
In 2011, the club set out to establish a women's senior squad, with player and coach development at age grade level being their long-term strategy to achieve their goal.
The club focused on having a strong player base at youths level by increasing playing numbers from Mini's right up to U-18 level as part of their player development strategy. It was also recognised that further action was required in terms of coaching structures, thus ensuring the girls had every opportunity to develop as part of their player pathway.
In conjunction with Munster women's rugby, development officer Amanda Greensmith (Mallow RFC) co-ordinated a 'Play Girls Rugby' programme in St Mary's and Davis College secondary schools in January and February of this year.
This provided the students with exposure to the game within school hours, while also giving them the opportunity to play at club level in Mallow RFC.
The club, in conjunction with Munster Rugby, recently ran a Leprechaun rugby course for transition year students at St Mary's secondary school.
The transition year students went on to coach rugby to first-year girls attending the school, resulting in the increase of playing numbers within the school.
As the club continues to grow, Mallow have over 20 players in their U-18 squad and nearly 15 players at the U-15 age grade.
Mallow also boasts an U-13 section and the number of girls playing mini rugby has increased significantly.
While the club is in its infancy, Mallow are confident they will have an adult team competing in the next five years but, in the meantime, their focus will remain on the development of the underage game.