Competing at Junior 2 level the men's senior team has increased its playing numbers from last season with many players advancing from the club's underage section. The club's first XV includes recent Munster youth representative players Ciaran Ó Coileáin (Puppy), Mikey Flannery and Tip Delaney which is a testament to their continuous rugby development.
Working in conjunction with Coláiste Íde Girls Boarding School, Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne is represented at both 7 and 15 aside rugby in girls' schools competitions throughout the academic year. With 35 registered players and two competing teams at Under 15 and Under 18 level, the girl's rugby section at Corca Dhuibhne continues to flurish. Head Coach Danno O'Keeffe acknowledges the achievements of Neasa McKenna, Hannah Collins and Sorcha Houlihan who have all been selected on the Munster U18 representative side and has put their success down to hard work as well as the right coaching support in place. "Since its formation in 2006 the standard of rugby played by the girls has improved year on year as it has indeed throughout the province. This has been reflected in the selection of three of our players on the Munster Girls U18 representative side. The contribution from the club's Director of Rugby Shane O'Rourke and Amanda Greensmith from Munster Rugby has been of immense benefit in the development of girls' rugby in Corca Dhuibhne and beyond, and I would also like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment from all our players."
With one hundred club mini and youth players Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne has developed a successful pathway at underage level however Niamh Ní Bhaoill, Club PRO acknowledges the continued challenges that face a rural club in today's climate. "Being located this far west brings its own challenges and in particular the retention of players. In the last year, because of emigration, at times it would nearly be more feasible to field a Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne senior team in Australia than it would be at home! Things are picking up though, and with a squad of twenty, we have great hopes for the seniors this season. The senior team recently dropped down to Junior 2 mainly due to a shortage of players but on the up side, being a J2 Club means our senior games will now be closer to home so more people can get involved and come to support our matches."
According to Ní Bhaoill developing new coaches and upskilling existing coaches is one of the key areas for the club's progression. "Last season three coaches completed the mini rugby course, one coach attended the IRFU Level 1 and one coach completed the IRFU Level 2 Assistant. We also had three of our coaches complete the associate refereeing course. We are hoping to have representatives on each of the Mini, Foundation and Level 1 courses in Munster Rugby this year and also hope to have representation on a safe rugby first aid course in October."
Looking ahead Club President John Holstead said Corca Dhuibhne will continue with strengthening the core values in the club and looks forward to a successful season. "Our club ethos is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to play rugby and to learn the skills and values involved in playing our sport, he said. We pride ourselves on speaking as Gaeilge and doing our bit to keep the language alive."
Commenting on the ongoing challenges regarding playing numbers he said "the work that has been done in the local schools is proving worthwhile with a big increase in new players at mini level."
"Over the coming year we are hoping to build on our strengths and attract more players both male and female. Our Director of Rugby Shane O'Rourke has been working with the local primary and secondary schools providing training and skills for pupils and teachers during school hours and we hope to continue this for the coming year. We are also concentrating on getting more parents involved in the Club. Every contribution, no matter how small, makes a huge difference. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers. Without them, running our club would be impossible. The coaches, administrators, sandwich makers and most importantly players who give up their time every week keep the club ticking over and we are very grateful to them."
As with most clubs in Ireland to date fundraising is a challenge for Corca Dhuibhne and with a hard working committee in place they continue to come up with new ideas to raise finances for improved facilities. "We organise the usual race nights, pub quizzes, etc., said Holstead. We held the great Santa Fun Run (5k) at Christmas and in August we organised the bar and food tent at the Dingle Races. This weekend we will host a fundraising tuna BBQ at the fantastic Dingle Food Festival, so watch out for us, come over and say hello and please give your support."
"At the end of the day, the main thing is that we have an enthusiastic, energetic, passionate group of people, players, parents and supporters, who, quite simply, love the game of rugby and want to be involved. Long may it last and roll on the new season. Rugbaí Chorca Dhuibhne Abú!"
Corca Dhuibhne minis pictured at a recent training session