As a Community Rugby Officer Ray is currently responsible for the development of all eight Kerry rugby clubs along with West Limerick Club Abbeyfeale and West Cork Clubs Bantry, Dunmanway and Skibbereen.
HOW HAS RUGBY IN KERRY DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS?
"When I first arrived in Ireland fourteen years ago there were only three established rugby clubs in Kerry. We now have a total of eight clubs in the region Tralee, Castleisland, Killarney, Killorglin, Kenmare, Iveragh, Listowel and Rugbai Corca Dhuibhne on the Dingle peninsula. All clubs have healthy mini sections and the youth competitions continue to develop which has been a huge step forward in terms of increasing playing numbers."
"Tralee RFC is currently playing in the Junior league division one while Castleisland and Killarney are presently well placed in division two. Personally, I would be delighted to see two extra Kerry teams advance to Division one this year. It would be huge recognition of the hard work our volunteers and coaches have put into the clubs over the years and I really think they deserve the reward."
"Tralee RFC has a very strong women's section. There are now four Tralee women on the Munster squad Laura O'Mahony, Siobhan Fleming, Ciara Griffin and Riona Kennedy who are all currently competing in the Women's interprovincial series. Many other clubs including Corca Dhuibhe, who have three to four girls teams, are also actively focussing on the development of women's rugby and enjoy competing in many girls blitz days held regularly throughout the county. "
"This year, for the first time ever Abbeyfeale and CBS Tralee competed in the final of the King Cup which highlights that the standards are improving all the time in our Kerry schools. The schools are very supportive of what we are doing and the teachers have become very proactive in developing themselves as coaches. We now have twelve Kerry schools playing in either 10-a-side blitzes, West Munster Junior Cup or West Munster Senior Cup with some of these schools also playing in the Munster Schools B Cups (King Cup and O'Brien Cup) which is big leap forward in our development."
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE?
"Firstly, I am the point of contact for all the clubs in the Kerry region and am there to help with any issues or needs they may have. If you like I am the Munster Rugby customer service provider for our Kerry clubs but a huge part of my role is also simply to encourage people to play rugby."
"We give the kids the opportunity to play rugby in their local area and see if they like it. If they choose to play football or soccer we support them all the way but we see it as important to give young people an opportunity to try something different, to try something they have never played before and make sure they are having fun while they are doing it. At the end of the day we just want them to play sport - it's all about enjoying the sport you are involved in from an early age and making friends while doing so!"
"The more children we have playing the game, the more JJ Hanrahans (Castleisland) and Danny Barnes (Tralee) we will produce. I have huge personal satisfaction having seen these guys play rugby from an early age and go on to reach their full potential."
"The West Munster Development squad is now going from strength to strength. There is now real credibility in Kerry Rugby stemming from the young lads coming in to our Munster Cadets and Regional Development Squads. Players are seeing the pathway to success from the likes of Ultan Dillane, Killian Walsh, Adrian Enright and Eoin O'Carroll, who have recently made it on the Ireland U18 Youths squad. These lads have progressed from mini rugby in Kerry to representing their province and making it into an Ireland jersey which I believe gives us a great indication that rugby in Kerry is progressing very well."
For further information on rugby in Kerry please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 087-9048031