Thursday 26 April 2018

Proud club fighting hard to get back on their feet

Dun: The U-11s who played at half-time in Irish Independent Park
Dun: The U-11s who played at half-time in Irish Independent Park

Based in the heart of West Cork, Dunmanway RFC was founded on March 30, 1973. The club has an ever-growing mini rugby section, a successful underage set-up and an adult side competing in the Junior Two league.

Olly Barry is one of the driving forces at the club and he coaches the adult side, the U-8s and is also the club's mini officer.

"The underage section at Dunmanway is strong, and getting stronger," said Olly. "We could do with more coaches and numbers could grow as well. Being realistic, we are in a very strong GAA area and GAA will always come first but minis are going well.

"We have teams at U-8s, 10s, 12s and we're hoping to expand that next year with more teams and coaches. Our U-16s have had a really good year and are into the semi-final of their league."

The club can also boast a Munster Academy player in winger Darren Sweetnam. The club's U-11 side were selected to play at half-time in the Munster v Cardiff Blues clash at Irish Independent Park in February and the youngsters were thrilled to see their local hero make his Munster debut on the night.

"Darren played with the club underage and his father is coaching the U-16s - he's a big part of their success and he played with the club for many years," said Olly.

The club have had their difficulties, however, as Olly explained: "For the last two years, our playing number were down with the recession. Bantry and Dunmanway were badly affected so the two clubs amalgamated about three years ago at adult level just to keep a team going.

"This is our first year back playing adult rugby on our own so we had to rebuild from scratch. We had a very strong U-18 squad last year so the majority of them played junior rugby this year and it's been working. We don't have an U-18 squad this year, though, so that's a big disappointment and a really big loss."


Their difficulties fielding teams at some age-groups hasn't prevented the club from developing excellent facilities in their home ground at Milleenanannig and becoming a major part of the community in Dunmanway.

"We have some of the best facilities for clubs at our level," said Olly. "We have two excellent pitches - one of which is floodlit, four dressing rooms, a small gym area. We are very well set-up facilities wise.

"The club is definitely growing in the community, we have an annual fun day which is hugely supported. It's a date on the calendar for the town, GAA is always No 1 down here but, for the winter months, rugby is definitely up there and it's a strong part of the community. It gets support from non-rugby people too as the facilities get used by the local athletics club."

The club have around 140 players from Dunmanway and the surrounding areas of Ballineen, Drimoleague, Kilmeen, Ballincarriga and even as far as Macroom.

The mini section caters for boys and girls and the club are hopeful of getting an underage section for the girls up-and-running at some stage.

The U-16s play their league semi-final on April 16 and the club host the annual Aidan Ross Memorial Cup a week later. The competition is for non-rugby playing schools in west Cork and is held with the help of Munster CRO Ray Gadsden.

This year's Family Fun Day will take place on the last weekend in June with the West Cork Schools Tag tournament being held in Dunmanway RFC earlier in the month.

Dunmanway have a rich and varied history. The club was formed just over 42 years ago, they played their first ever game against Skibbereen and played friendly games for a year before they began competing in Division 3 of the Munster Junior League.

Dunmanway RFC were promoted to Division 2 in the early 1980s and in 1984 they enjoyed arguable their most successful season winning both the Kelly Cup and the West Cork Cup. The Kelly Cup was retained the following season and they also added the Quinlan Cup to their trophy cabinet. In the mid-1980s Dunmanway moved their home grounds from the Race field in Dromleena to Milleenanannig and the club grounds have been developed extensively since.

In more recent times, Dunmanway RFC again reached the League final in 2010, narrowly losing out to Cobh Pirates in Musgrave Park.

Irish Independent

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