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Club Focus: Ballina-Killaloe RFC

16th January 2015 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus: Ballina-Killaloe RFC

Ballina-Killaloe RFC is a rugby club based in the picturesque twin towns of Ballina, Co Tipperary and Killaloe, Co Clare.

Ballina-Killaloe RFC is a rugby club based in the picturesque twin towns of Ballina, Co Tipperary and Killaloe, Co Clare.

The club cater for mini and youths rugby. Teams range from U-7s up to U-12s with the older players joining forces with neighbouring Scarriff RFC in the youth section.

The club are based at Clarisford Park – a community and sports facility located on the banks of the River Shannon.""
This year's U-11s played the half-time mini rugby game at Thomond Park during the Munster v Leinster clash last month

Ballina-Killaloe RFC has a serious pedigree when it comes to producing rugby players of the highest quality. Munster head coach Anthony Foley started his rugby career at the club before leading the province to their first Heineken Cup title in 2006. Former Munster hooker and Ireland captain Keith Wood also played on Ballina-Killaloe youth teams in the late 1980s.

Although a rugby club did exist in Ballina for a short period in the 1920s, the modern club has its origins in August 1970 when a meeting in the old McKeogh’s Bar set the wheels in motion for the formation of Ballina RFC.

Five years later, the club name was changed to Ballina-Killaloe RFC in response to the growing input from the Killaloe side of the bridge. The club catchment area has traditionally extended to Birdhill, Ogonnelloe, Broadford and other outlying parishes.

Throughout the seventies and early eighties Ballina-Killaloe competed at Junior 1 level. The first significant trophy they won was the Culligan Cup, the premier Clare competition, in 1976/77.

In 1980/81, the club enjoyed its most successful season, culminating in a 14-match unbeaten run during which the Culligan Cup, the Clare Lakelands Cup and the Webb Cup were captured. That year, the club celebrated its tenth anniversary with a special match against Emus RFC from New South Wales, Australia.

Irish internationals Tony Ward, Colm Tucker, Brendan Foley and Pat Whelan lined out for the Ballina-Killaloe Invitation XV on that occasion.""

The late Gordon Wood, capped 29 times for Ireland and a tourist with the Lions in New Zealand in 1959, coached the club first XV on a number of occasions as did 11 times capped Brendan Foley.

Foley also lined out for Ballina-Killaloe in his last season as a player and is now president of the club.

Last season's U-11s proudly show off their Community Games medals. They were the first side to represent the club at the competition.

The club went into abeyance in 1997 but was revived in 2002 as a mini rugby club. Club chairman Brian O’Shaughnessy outlines the progression that Ballina-Killaloe RFC have made in recent times: “It’s only the last few years that we’ve had good numbers at every age in the minis,” O’Shaughnessy said.

“We have between 25 and 30 players at each age-group. There’s a great reward from being involved in the club, it’s excellent that way and it’s a great way of getting to know everyone and getting involved in the local community,” he added.

The club now finds itself at somewhat of a crossroads. As the numbers continue to increase there is a decision to be made on whether to expand and field sides at youth level separate to Scarriff.

Of the current combined side at U-13 level, 17 of the players hail from Ballina-Killaloe with three from Scarriff. In the other age groups there would be more from Scarriff but as the numbers at mini level continue to increase, the playing numbers in the older age-groups will follow suit.

Their aim is to have four coaches per team with former players and the parents of the current players making up most of the coaching panels.""
The U-12s at a blitz in St. Mary's

“In general, you’d have four coaches at each age-group but sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle,” said O’Shaughnessy, a coach himself. “The U-13s are doing well with regards coaches this year but there were only two of us all the way through. You know yourself, you bring your young fella down and end up getting involved. This year we’ve had a few lads who would have played with the club years ago come back to help with the coaching, which is great. They’re young lads and they’ve been a great help this year.”
The new facilities that the club have been using for the past year in Clarisford Park (right) have also provided a welcome boost. “There’s a brand new beautiful park and it has a rugby pitch, a soccer pitch, an all-weather pitch and a 3G pitch,” O’Shaughnessy enthused.

“It’s made life a lot easier for us, the facility is absolutely fantastic. The best thing for the youngest teams is the 3g pitch. What we found with the U-7s and U-8s is that the playing numbers would fall off halfway through the year. But they’re training now full time in the 3G pitch and the numbers actually increase by the end of the year because they’re not getting covered in muck!”


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