New sponsorship deal vital boost for the club game
ULSTER Bank's sponsorship of the All-Ireland League is to be warmly welcomed, as a vibrant domestic league is important for the sub-professional playing cadre and also as a feeding ground for the game's top tier.
Players like Damien Varley, Sean Cronin (pictured) and James Coughlan ploughed away in the AIL before establishing themselves in the professional game and others such as Nevin Spence, Ian Nagle and Peter O'Mahony are on the same path.
The RugbyForce initiative, which provides €5,000 funding for develop-ment and marketing on a designated weekend, is another progressive step and one that is certain to see tremendous jostling among the clubs as they seek the four available spots.
This would strike you as an award ideally suited to non-rugby stronghold clubs who take innovative steps to embrace their communities. Nothing against the Cork Cons, Shannons, Wanderers or Lansdownes, but this initiative could be invaluable in unearthing the next John Hayes or Sean O'Brien, who hail from the non-rugby communities of Cappamore and Tullow respectively. HF