Roughly six years ago John took it on himself to try and establish Girls rugby in Abbeyfeale RFC and kicked it all off by forming an U15 team. The Convent School in Abbeyfeale was his first stop and once he was underway John spread his network to other schools in the locality. As is his way John insisted on mentioning the fantastic support he received from the late Sarah McGarry who was then working as a P.E Teacher in Colaiste Ide agus Iosef.
At this stage John had been well and truly bitten by the coaching bug and he undertook his coaching certification to ensure he was delivering the right information and techniques to the girls. By the following season the Girls section had expanded to an Under 15 and an Under 18 team but John wasn't happy to stop there and in conjunction with Munster Women's Community Rugby Officer Amanda Greensmith the next step was establishing a Women's Team. This was duly achieved and they currently sit on top of the table in the Women's Munster League Group B.
A regular week for John would see him coaching the Women's Team on two evenings while also lending a hand with the underage by coaching the U15 Girls one night a week. He also gives advice and technical assistance to other club teams as required.
His influence isn't confined to coaching however as John is also a qualified referee, a certified First Aider and he also organises all of the fixtures at both levels. John has also helped to raise funds for the Women's and Girls teams by holding several successful fundraising nights. He also contributed to the Marie Keating Foundation by organising a rugby match between the Abbeyfeale and Tralee Women's Teams.
Head Coach of the Girls Underage in Abbeyfeale RFC, Hannah Broderick has described John's input as invaluable in that "Without him the club would have no Women's or Girls teams to raise the profile of the club. To this day he continues to encourage and motivate more girls into trying rugby. When I started playing rugby 3 years ago he encouraged me to become a coach and I have now progressed to becoming head coach of the underage".
Hannah also stated that "Without him the club would not have had players representing Munster at underage level over the past few years, which is a great boost to the club as young players can now see what can be achieved if you apply yourself under John's guidance. The Women's and Girls teams have become a very big part of the club and without John's tireless dedication the teams would not be recognised for their achievements today."
Today Abbeyfeale RFC field Girls Teams at Under 13, Under 15, Under 18 and a Women's squad of 25 players from all walks of life.
Munster Rugby is delighted to congratulate John as a most deserving winner of our Volunteer Recognition Award.
The Munster Rugby Volunteer Recognition Programme was launched to give clubs and schools the opportunity to acknowledge the significant contribution made to rugby by volunteers throughout the province.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of every sport and leisure organisation in Ireland. Without these people our clubs and organisations would cease to exist.
The programme will reward and acknowledge the efforts of volunteers who devote countless hours' week in week out, year after year to provide a safe and enjoyable environment at the grass roots level of the game. From the kitchen worker to the weekend linesman to the parents that manage under-age sides, it is up to you to nominate worthy contributors.
The programme will run from November 2013 to May 2014 with a reward scheme consisting of individual "Volunteer of the Month" awards.
The Volunteer Recognition Programme is open to any person currently associated with domestic rugby in Munster, in a non-paid capacity at a club, school, college, university or associated affiliate of the Munster Branch IRFU.
Successful nominees who meet the set criteria will be recognised for their efforts by receiving a prize package including tickets and full pre-match hospitality for two to a Munster match.
For full details of the nomination process please email firstname.lastname@example.org