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Club Focus: Skibbereen RFC

10th January 2014 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus:  Skibbereen RFC

While there are records to show Rugby was being played in West Cork in the late 1880’s the modern era for the Skibbereen Club began on the 18th June 1951 when a well attended inaugural meeting took place in the Town Hall to reform the West Cork Club.

While there are records to show Rugby was being played in West Cork in the late 1880’s the modern era for the Skibbereen Club began on the 18th June 1951 when a well attended inaugural meeting took place in the Town Hall to reform the West Cork Club.

One of the founding fathers, the club’s first Honorary Secretary and former club captain John Wolfe, played a major part in Skibbereen’s development in those early years and was also part of the historic side that claimed the O’Neill Cup in four consecutive seasons from 1953 to 1956. He also led the side that won the first of Skibbereen’s six County Cup titles in 1955.

Wolfe was recently honoured for his achievements at the clubhouse when a special presentation was made to him in recognition of his fine work for the club.

“John was the first captain of the reformed club. He and his brother in-law John Hosford rounded up the whole town to get players and organise pitches, jerseys and transport. Quite honestly there would have been no team without him”, says current club president John Field.

From those early days in the 50’s Skibbereen fielded a team at junior level and had a better than average start by winning seven of their 18 matches in that inaugural year.

The first of their 15 O’Neill Cup titles was won just a year later beating Mallow in the final. They also came very close that year in the County Cup, only losing out to Mallow 6-5 in the decider.

Skibbereen RFC had quite a few homes before settling on its present location on the ‘Link Road’ in the late 1980’s. A major renovation completed in 2007, and the club now boasts state of the art facilities both on and off the field.

Leading from the front is head coach Hemi Taukiri, who in his first year in charge, this season brought the club to the All Ireland Cup semi final where they narrowly lost out at home to reigning champions Cloher Valley from Northern Ireland.

“We were delighted with our achievement in reaching the semi final of the All Ireland Cup and are very proud of our entire squad for their outstanding performance throughout the competition, said Field. “We beat Ballina and Tralee at home before taking on Cloher Valley in what was a very close semi final. There was only one score in it for the 80 minutes and unfortunately they got a try in the final stages which eventually clinched it.”

“They had a huge travelling support which added to the great atmosphere in what was a marvellous occasion for everyone involved with our club. We got to know how to get to the semi final stage which is the furthest we’ve ever got in the competition so our challenge for next year is to find our way to the final.“

Currently placed in the middle of the Munster J1, Division 1 League, Club Chairman, Bertie Hourihane, acknowledges that the club will not be in contention for promotion but said they are hopeful they will maintain their mid table ranking. “We have ruled out promotion and ruled out a top four qualifier and if we could stay in the middle of the table for the remainder of the season we will be more than satisfied”, he says.

Club Secretary Barry Dempsey stresses: “We’re not fielding a 20’s team this year but we probably have the bones of five players aged between 18 and 19 playing for our J1 side. It’s about getting those guys settled in as we continue to build for the seasons ahead”.

At any given underage training session at Skibbereen Rugby Club there can be up to 200 young players being put through their paces by an equally enthusiastic group of coaches and mentors, including head coach Takuri.

“Hemi is involved with all our weekly training sessions from Under 7’s right up to the Under 18 squad and has already made a huge impression on the young players”, said Dempsey. He has held a coaching clinic which has been very well received. His objective is to coach the coaches and progress the youngsters in terms of basic skills from an early age. I’ve watched him coach at all levels and he does the same drills at Under 7’s as he does with the senior team. It might be slightly more advanced at adult level but the same basic principles are there.”

Club PRO Alan Dodd adds: “The investment in our youth set-up is now beginning to pay dividends and recent successes at U13, U15 and U17 at County League and Cup level is a great source of satisfaction for all the hard work by all our dedicated coaches”.

“All the coaches are actively encouraged to build on their coaching qualifications and no stone is left unturned in providing the best tuition available”.

“Of course parental involvement is paramount to the success of our underage section and their help and support throughout the season contributes enormously to the smooth operation that it has become”.

As the club looks ahead to the remainder of the season Dodd says silverware is firmly on their sights and is confident their senior side can build on their recent All Ireland Cup performance.

“We’ll be concentrating on the cups now and that seems to be falling in line with the way we’re going”, said Dodd. We are happy with our position in the league for now and we have set our goals in targeting the County Cup and O’Neill Cup. What has always been our objective is to win a major. We have never won a Munster Junior Cup and it is our dream. We were beaten in the final by Cork Con two years ago and by the same opposition in the semi finals last year. That’s how close we have been and to add that piece of silverware to our trophy cabinet this year would be very nice!”

Club Honours

Munster Junior League: 2003/04
Munster Junior Plate: 1995/96
O’Neill Cup: 1952/53, 1953/54, 1954/55, 1955/56, 1959/60, 1961/62, 1970/71, 1978/79, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1987/88, 1991/92, 1992/93, 2007/08, 2008/09
County Cup: 1954/55, 1961/62, 1984/85, 1994/95, 2003/04, 2005/06.
McCarthy Cup: 1974/75, 1992/93, 1993/94, 2003/04
Junior 3 League Pennant: 1991/92
Junior 3 Plate: 2005/06
Junior 3 Cup: 2003/04
South Munster U18 Cup: 1997/98
Tate Cup: 2005/06
Mick Barry Cup: 2008/09

Club Officers

President: John Field
Chairman: Bertie Hourihane
Hon. Secretary: Barry Dempsey
Club PRO: Alan Dodd
Hon. Treasurer: Eileen McCarthy


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