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Club Focus: St. Senan’s RFC

28th November 2014 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus: St. Senan’s RFC

2014 has proven to be a very successful year for Clare club St. Senan’s as both the men and women’s teams won their respective leagues last season and have taken the step up in division comfortably in their stride.

2014 has proven to be a very successful year for Clare club St. Senan’s as both the men and women’s teams won their respective leagues last season and have taken the step up in division comfortably in their stride.

The men’s team won Division Two of the Munster Junior League and are now flying high in Division One with three wins from five league games so far this season.

The St. Senan’s women’s team (in action below) lie third in Division 2 South of the AIL after five games having beaten a fancied Dungarvan side 46-12 in the final of the Munster Development league last April.""

Jody O’Donoghue is in his second year as club president and he outlined how the club is building from the ground up with a firm emphasis on the development of the club’s youth structure.

“Our whole underage structure and our community are very important to us and that’s what we focus on. We want to get the younger players through, getting them experience as soon as we can and making sure we’ve a reasonably good coaching level at all age groups so when they do come up they’ve got the fundamental skills,” said O’Donoghue.

Former Young Munster player Tom Cronin took the reins of the senior team last season with two objectives; to gain promotion and blood some of the younger players coming through the system at the club.

Cronin delivered on both fronts as O’Donoghue explains: “The aim was to get back into Division One and develop our younger guys because we had a lot of younger players coming through who weren’t getting an opportunity and we wanted to build for the future.

“He did that and it worked out very well. There was a good mixture of youth and senior players – we won Division Two and it’s the same mandate this year.

“Thanks to our success last year, four lads represented us in the Munster Junior teamAaron Skerritt, Warren Kelly, Ian Fitzgerald and Pat Ryan, our club captain.

Below – St. Senan's J1 team in action against Newcastle West
""“The plan now is to hold our own in Division One and keep developing the younger players coming through.”

The underage section of St. Senan’s RFC is run by experienced coaches who have completed mini and foundation courses run and accredited by the Munster Branch.

Tony O’Brien is the club’s youth development officer and he has seen the number of mini players at the club double to over 200 in less than two years.

“The main goal for us as a club is ensuring that all of the players are involved,” said O’Brien. “At the moment we’re fielding two teams at most levels and the most important thing for us is that everyone who comes down gets a game.

“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to boost the playing numbers. We’re helping out in the schools across the board now and once we put the structure in place where coaches, parents and players are happy, it becomes a better environment and you get more people involved.

“We’re lucky really because we have great people involved with the club and no job is too much for anyone.

"""The most important thing is getting people to volunteer their time and once you have that everything else will fall into place,” O’Brien enthused.

Left – Preparing for the trip to see Ireland play Georgia

“We brought six full buses up to the Ireland v Georgia match so we had over 270 people up there. There were four buses full of mini players and two buses of youths went up. It was a massive day for the club and it all went off perfectly.”

The ladies team(below) were formed just three years ago and are already challenging for a place at the top table of Irish women’s rugby. O’Donoghue, who combines his role as club President with his position as the coach of the ladies team, believes the ladies are an integral part of the club.
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“You can’t beat having ladies involved in the club, either playing or being involved in a ladies committee,” he said.

“Just having the girls around the club makes a massive difference. In terms of getting involved in things within the club and fundraising they’re great to do it. We found it started to generate a friendly rivalry between the men’s team and the ladies team – if the ladies team were going well they’d slag the lads and vice versa so that brings a good bit of banter into the club.”

Looking to the future, O’Donoghue hopes to expand the female section of the club to include two underage girls teams to ensure continuity in the senior side.

”There are a lot of girls in our underage teams from U-6s up to U-12s but we want to develop U-16s and U-18s girls teams. We have people in the club going out to the schools and gauging the interest in that because the girls are doing well and we want to sustain and build on that.”

The club relies heavily on sponsorship and fundraising to sustain their development and O’Donoghue was full of praise for the companies that keep the club afloat.

“We have our own grounds and we need to pay for that – we don’t have a bar so raising funds is a big thing for us. Ei Electronics are now our club sponsor and the Shannon Knights sponsor the girls team and we are grateful to all our sponsors, without their support I don’t know where we would be,” he added.

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