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Club Focus: Thurles RFC

24th October 2014 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus: Thurles RFC

Thurles RFC celebrate 90 years of rugby in the town next week and the senior side hope to end the season back in Division 1 of the Munster Junior League.

Thurles RFC celebrate 90 years of rugby in the town next week and the senior side hope to end the season back in Division 1 of the Munster Junior League.

The men's team have gotten off to a superb start with three wins on the spin after narrowly missing out on promotion last season.

Apart from the in-form senior side, the club also boasts a thriving underage boys and girls section with the ladies team competing in the Development league.

After its formation in 1924, Thurles RFC hit the ground running – winning the Garryowen Cup three times in the first five years.

There have been plenty of peaks and troughs along the journey to the present day that finds the club in fine fettle.

The 30s and 50s were a time of rich pickings for Thurles RFC but emigration raised its head in the 60s, and performances dropped. The presence of the Sugar Factory in Thurles attracted employment to the town and also brought in rugby players from all over the country to live and play in the town.

In 1950 the club was honoured when the late Dr. Jack Moloney was selected to play for Ireland against Scotland.

In 1970 the club purchased a field in Loughtagalla in Thurles and by 1975 had built a new clubhouse and dressing rooms. The club continued to prosper in its new surroundings and won the North Munster League in 1983 and multiple local cups at J1 & J2 level.

Munster Provincial Cup success eventually came in in 1993 when the club claimed the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup. Thurles RFC then qualified to play in the Munster Senior Cup where they created history by becoming the first junior club to beat a senior team (UCC) in the competition.

At the turn of the century, however, the fortunes of the Junior 1 team faltered. When recessionary times arrived, the team was decimated with emigration and dropped from the Munster Junior League First Division for the first time in its history.

The first season in Division 2 was a difficult one, but the club survived and have laid the foundations to rebuild itself from the bottom up.

Despite narrowly missing out on a return to Division 1 last season, the buzz was back around the club.

They are confident of going one better this season as most of last year’s squad has been retained and added to by a mixture of more experienced and younger players.

The shrewdest signing could prove to be the addition of former Head Coach, Kevin O’Dwyer to the backroom team to run the forwards and a strong start augurs well for the campaign.

In the underage section, Thurles fields competitive teams at U-14, U-16, and U-18 levels. It all stems from the early seventies when the club decided that youth development was the only way forward. The late George Hyland was to the forefront of some sterling work and he co-ordinated the youth section for many years. ""

This policy is still paying off with the youths that George encouraged now a main part of the club’s coaching setup.

The club develop players from an early age and the adage 'from small acorns mighty oak trees grow' certainly springs to mind on any given Saturday morning in the club. No less than six mini teams from U-7 right up to U-12 can be seen in full flight either training, playing or 'blitzing' right across the grounds.

The Thurles U-18s in action against Clonmel

The ethos of the club is simple. The kids come and enjoy themselves, learn the skills and play with their age-group all the way up.

Ten years ago the club set up Girls’ U-15 and U-18 teams having been approached by a number of girls who wanted to play rugby.

After learning the basics they turned out to be hugely successful winning the Munster U-15 Cup twice and the Munster U-18 Cup on three occasions.""

To further underline the quality of the U-18 side, they were also invited to take part in the Leinster Cup and won that too.

Their success continues to the present day with 11 girls from Thurles RFC representing Munster in the last four years alone with Aisling O’Hagan winning her first cap for Ireland at U-18 Schools level this year.

Gemma Dunican, Aisling O Hagan, Sarah Sweeney, Catriona Molumby and Aisling Scanlon featured for the Munster U-18s this season

With the high profile attached to the phenomenal successes of women's rugby in Ireland, the Thurles ladies team is in full flight.

""Formed in 2008, the team has proved a great asset to the club and the playing numbers are on the rise annually.

After an exceptional maiden year in Division Two, the side struggled and made the move down to the Development league in 2011.

Since then, they have suffered two narrow semi-final defeats as they seek promotion and this year may well prove third time lucky.

The Thurles Women's team are hopeful of securing promotion back to Division 2 South

Thurles RFC is proud of its contribution to Tipperary, Munster and Irish rugby, and will continue to play an active role in the development of players long into the future.


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