Saturday 21 April 2018

Laying the foundations for future success

Club Focus: Clanwilliam FC

Clanwilliam FC’s first team
Clanwilliam FC’s first team
Former Munster player Alan Quinlan started playing rugby with Clanwilliam FC

Morgan Mooney

Clanwilliam FC is based in Tipperary Town and has a long history of rugby having been founded in 1879.

After playing in various locations around the town, the club settled and developed their current home at Clanwilliam Park in 1956.

Today Clanwilliam Park consists of a playing pitch, training area, changing-rooms, a large hall, bar and catering facilities.

In 2007 a second playing pitch and changing-rooms were developed at Collegelands, Tipperary. This facility is used extensively, with most of the club training taking place there.

Over the years, a number of players from Clanwilliam have attained representative honours, the most well-known being Alan Quinlan with 27 Ireland caps.

Tommy O'Donnell with 12 caps continues to do the club proud with his Munster performances - he made his 150th Munster appearance recently.

Alan's cousin David Quinlan captained the Irish Clubs side in 2007, while Sean Walsh, who also played with the Irish Clubs side, is back playing with Clanwilliam this season.

Aimee Leigh Murphy-Crowe is having a wonderful run with the Irish Sevens team scoring many spectacular tries. She was voted Women's Sevens Player of the Year for 2016.

John Lacey is keeping the officiating side of the club to the fore as an international referee. Among the big games he has overseen was the 2015 World Cup third/fourth place play-off.

There have been a number of notable successes for Clanwilliam on the field, the Munster Junior Cup triumph in 1947 being the highlight.

A final and semi-final defeat in the last four years has renewed the appetite for success in this prestigious competition.

Another great day in the club's history was winning the Munster Challenge Cup (restricted to Junior clubs) in 1996.

Besides the two Munster successes, the club have a number of wins in regional competitions such as the Mansergh, Garryowen and Evans Cups.

This season Clanwilliam's first team are competing in the first division of the Munster Junior League. After five games they are mid-table, aiming to better last season's fifth-place finish.

The team recently beat Bandon in the Challenge Cup which qualifies them for a home semi-final match against Waterpark on December 17.

The second XV play in the Gleeson League and will have local cup matches to look forward to after Christmas.

Encouraging

There is a good panel of young players competing for first and second team positions and it is encouraging to see so many of recent underage club players involved in the adult squads.

A tour to Manchester at the start of the season was a great success, with 35 players and officials travelling.

Club coach Matt Brown is happy with progress this season.

"Working off a relatively small squad, there is great commitment and loyalty from our players towards Clanwilliam," he says.

"Many of the players are working or studying outside of the Tipperary area and travel back for midweek training.

"There is a great atmosphere in the club and good structures to support success on the rugby field.

"Last Sunday's win against Bandon was important as we have some important matches coming up and hopefully we can build on that performance to finish 2017 on a high note".

At underage, Clanwilliam is fielding teams at U-18s, U-16s, U-14s and U-13s as well as having over a hundred up-and-coming stars learning all the basics of rugby at mini rugby level.

The U-18s and U-16s teams compete in the Munster Conference, while the U-14s and U-13s are in East Munster leagues.

At the moment all these teams are towards the top end of their leagues. A notable success earlier in the year was the U-13s winning the Pat Lawler Cup, which is the premier blitz competition for that age group in North Munster.

Mini rugby for 5-12-year-olds is a great environment for learning rugby and Clanwilliam are lucky to have so many coaches and helpers involved with their mini and underage teams.

Besides nurturing the future with all this activity for young players, Clanwilliam is also active in developing the club's facilities for the future.

New floodlights are being installed at Clanwilliam Park, and this exciting development will complement a quality playing surface.

Club president Mike Ryan is really looking forward to completing this project and he believes it will be a huge achievement and investment for the club in the short and long term.

"This will be a huge improvement for Clanwilliam Park, allowing us host night matches," he says.

"The atmosphere and social element of these fixtures will bring an added buzz to the club.

"Clanwilliam have been fortunate to receive Capital Sports Funding towards the new lights and we are currently active with fundraising to secure the balance of the funds.

"As ever the club is thankful for the support it receives on and off the field and Clanwilliam looks forward to a bright future to match its proud history".

This Sunday the Clanwilliam first team return to action with a key league game against Kanturk at Clanwilliam Park at 2.30.

Tomorrow the seconds are also in league action as they make the trip to Fethard for an all-Tipp battle, while the U-18s face Garryowen, the U-16s also meet Fethard and the U-14s will be tested against county rivals Clonmel at 11.0.

As with all clubs, fundraising is vital and in two weeks' time Clanwilliam are hosting a LypSync event at the clubhouse to help raise vital funds for the year ahead.

Mark down Friday, December 8 in your diary!

Irish Independent

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