Competing in Division 2B of the All Ireland League Nenagh this season remain unbeaten in the competition and are currently positioned top of the table. Claiming the inaugural Cyril Fitzgerald Plate last season the club are also focused on retaining their title when they take on Young Munster in the final of the competition in Dooradoyle on 21st December.
Head coach and leading player is Derek Corcoran who recently had the distinction of scoring his 50th try in the All Ireland League. Derek is ably assisted by forwards coach and two time Heineken Cup winner - former Munster, Leinster and Ireland international Trevor Hogan. Both coaches are local Nenagh men who have played at the very top levels of Irish rugby, which adds greatly to the sense of local pride and sense of community in the club.
"We became a senior club in season 2004/05 and have been knocking on the door for promotion ever since, said David Kennedy, Club President. We have had a great start this season and there is no doubt that advancing to Division 2A is on our minds. I think if you asked any of the players they will tell you their aim would be to get promoted this year and I am very hopeful that we will achieve our goal."
In their first home 'Friday Night Lights' fixture of the season Nenagh will take on recently promoted Richmond tonight and are looking forward to what promises to be a very enjoyable occasion for both clubs. "We are looking forward to the match and are particularly excited about it being under lights" said Kennedy. "We are expecting a large crowd coming to support both teams and I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere in the clubhouse after the game."
"There is a lot of history and tradition between the two clubs at junior level over the years and this is the first time we will meet as senior clubs. For that reason we would be expecting many of the past players from both clubs to come along and support their teams".
Commenting on the club's progression Kennedy states that Nenagh's coaching structures and player development from youth level right through to their senior team has been a primary contributor to the club's success.
"About two years ago we lost a lot of players mainly to emigration as well as some that retired from the game. Luckily we had an abundance of talent from our U20's who progressed to our senior team, all of whom were local guys that came up through our youths structure."
"As well as Derek and Trevor, we are very proud of past player Munster and Ireland international Donnacha Ryan who started his rugby as a young boy at Nenagh. He still comes to the occasional game to support us when he can and often presents medals to our underage teams or helps out at a coaching session which gives them a lot of encouragement."
Speaking on the ongoing challenges for the club Kennedy said "Overall I think adult playing numbers is our greatest challenge. We struggle for numbers generally in terms of depth, mainly from our senior seconds as it is often the case that our firsts have to pull from their squad."
"Like most clubs raising finance can also be a challenge with fundraising and sponsorship at this time being more difficult than it was before. That said, the whole Nenagh community are very supportive of the club and we have some really loyal and generous sponsors. In addition we have a fantastic club committee behind us who are very proactive in terms of developing new initiatives to raise funds and their efforts are very much appreciated."
"There is also a huge level of support for the club in what is traditionally a GAA heartland, mainly I think because we have been around for over 100 years and people within the community are very proud of our achievements. Many of the locals' children or grandchildren have played with Nenagh at one time or another and the amount of genuine goodwill we get from the community is phenomenal, not just from Nenagh town but all the surrounding parishes that feed into the club."
With about 200 players in their mini section and competing from Under 13's right up to Under 20's Nenagh Ormond continue to focus on player recruitment at age grade level and Theresa Hassey, Club Secretary, pays tribute to the work done by the club's dedicated and hard-working Juvenile Committee and also Pat Fitzpatrick, the club's Community Rugby Officer. "Pat has been a huge resource for us in terms of getting young people involved in the game. Many of our youths are from more traditional GAA backgrounds and indeed many diverse backgrounds such as Moldova and Slovakia, where rugby wouldn't be a popular sport. These players are coming to through the school system which has been great for the development of our youth structure. "
The club field a successful women's team who this season remain unbeaten in the AIL Division II, however with women's rugby increasing in popularity throughout the country the club acknowledges the importance of growing the game at girls' level. "Our immediate past President Jennifer Donovan and PRO Eithne Darcy, who both also play on our senior team, have made huge strides in developing women's rugby in Nenagh and deserve a lot of credit for their contributions".
"We have a relatively small playing squad but all the ladies are incredibly committed. We would like to see more ladies involved in playing the game and part of the clubs longer term objective is to begin to field underage girls teams."
As the club gear up for their Friday night fixture Theresa acknowledges the everyday work that is done by club members behind the scenes "Everything that is done for the club is done voluntarily - from lining the pitch to manning the scoreboard, cleaning out the dressing rooms etc., and I think we are very lucky with the dedicated people who offer up their time for our club currently and all those who have done this in the past to bring us to where we are today. After all we are only the temporary caretakers of this club for future generations to come and hopefully we'll be able to make some improvements along the way. Tonight though we are really looking forward to a great game and indeed to all the remaining games in the AIL and are hopeful that we will be rewarded with a top of the league finish to our season!
Nenagh Ormond Youths pictured with Munster Players BJ Botha, Shane Buckley, Johne Murphy and Duncan Casey
Nenagh Ormond Committee
Image Credit: Bridget Delaney