It’s Monday afternoon and out here in Creggs we are recovering from one of the most amazing weekends that our little village has ever seen, with Saturday’s official opening of three new Creggs Rugby pitches, the unveiling of a fantastic new stand, and new electronic scoreboard. Throw in a host of rugby matches involving players of every age, shape and size, which went on all day and which featured more than 400 underage players.
My good friend, Jack the Lower, told me he had never seen as many people in the village before. Now Jack’s memory goes back to the great days (or nights) of the Creggs Carnivals, and he told every parking place in the area was taken up from early morning right though the whole day!
I’ve told you before that work is a huge inconvenience in my life, and so, even though I now only have to go in on Fridays and Saturdays, Saturday was a problem, and so I didn’t get to any of the earlier festivities. I did, however, arrive in time for the big local derby, when our first team took on Buccaneers from Athlone. The crowd was absolutely huge, and what made it even better was the fact that the game lived up to the sense of occasion, and Creggs kept up their end by winning on a scoreline of 38-21.
The funny thing was that at half-time you would nearly think it was all over, with our lads leading 31-7, and, in fact, my brother, the Rasher, was going to head back to Ennis at the interval. However, wise old heads like Billy and me (maybe not that wise) told him to hold fire, as we just knew Buccs would come roaring back into it, and sure enough after only 15 minutes of the second half they had scored two converted tries, and the lead was down to ten.
The Rasher stayed, and it was nip and tuck until the finish, but towards the end prop forward Tom Fleming careered through the visitors’ defence, produced a mesmeric sidestep (or was it a speed wobble?) to wrong-foot the last defender, and score a wonderful winning try.
Now there has been many a good try scored in Creggs over the last 45 years, but the five they scored on Saturday were all just incredible and they would have brightened up any game at even the highest level. For the record, they were all scored by mountain men, so in case it never happens again the scorers were Shane Dowd (2), his brother Ronan, Kevin Gavin and the aforementioned twinkle-toes Tom Fleming. Any one of them would be a candidate for the try of any season but, partly because he sometimes plays golf with me and Duff, but more so because of Shane Purcell’s exquisite chip and the speed with which it was gathered and finished, I think Ronan Dowd’s score ranks with the best I’ve ever been fortunate enough to see. It will live long in the memory of all of us lucky enough to witness it.
Celebrating 45 years of Creggs RFC
After the rugby action last Saturday it was a rush home to put on our finery, paint and powder the face (Carol, not me), and head to the Abbey Hotel, where upwards of 250 people attended Creggs’ 45th anniversary. I think it was one of the most enjoyable functions I have ever been at.
There was the usual number of speeches, including one by one of the most influential figures in women’s world rugby, Trien native Su Carthy, who is Ireland’s representative on the World Women’s Council. I have to admit that her list of achievements is mindboggling, and I, for one, was unaware of the enormity of the position that she holds in World Rugby.
Since 2009, when she was appointed as the first World Rugby Women’s Development Manager, she has been instrumental in promoting women’s rugby, and over the ten years under her watch women went from comprising 4% of the world’s playing population to now making up a quarter of the total. It was wonderful to have a person of such stature address us.
Su was followed by another extraordinary speaker, Fergus Farrell, a former Monivea rugby player, who suffered an extremely serious injury less than a year ago when he was lifting heavy machinery in his yard in Athenry.
I won’t go into the details, but Fergus was told his chances of ever walking again were extremely low, so to see him walk into the ballroom in the Abbey Hotel was remarkably inspiring and he too proved a wonderful speaker.
When our own club great, Adrian Leddy, had his retirement do in Hannon’s Hotel a few weeks ago, he organised a collection to go to a fund Fergus set up to buy new equipment for the NRH (National Rehabilitation Centre) and the proceeds of that collection (€1,500) was presented to Fergus on the night as well.
The last of the outside speakers was Johnny Carr from Tuam, representing the Connacht Branch and from Creggs we had Michael Ward, on behalf of sponsors Ward & Burke, Ger Dowd, coach of the 1994 All-Ireland winning women’s team (who were honoured on the night), Club President Aidan Farrell, and yours truly, who represented the 1989 double winning team, who were also honoured on the night.
Anyway, after a superb dinner, it was time for the festivities and despite my exceptional dancing skills, I stayed away from the dance floor, met up with loads of past and present club stalwarts, marvelled at the journey our little club has gone on, revelled in the fact that I was one of the five (Jack the Higher and Lower, the Rasher, my brother Dec, and the Gunner, Jim O’Roarke the others) that came up with the idea of forming a rugby club 45 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful night.
What the future holds for Creggs RFC no-one knows, but right now it’s in a really good place, and we can only hope it continues onwards and upwards for many years to come. Certainly it looks good, and with the two Brians, Diffley and Coady, captaining the two adult teams, it’s safe to say we are in safe hands.
Finally for this week…
Finally for this week, it’s that time of year again, and Mary Kelly tells me the best social occasion of the year, the Senior Citizens’ Party, is coming up on Sunday, December 8th in St. Mary’s Hall, Kilbegnet, and everyone is welcome!
It all kicks off at 2 pm and there will be loads of music, food, drink and craic, and she wants to see you all there. I have yet to get to it, but I am definitely qualified age-wise, so maybe I might make it this time.
I will remind you again next week, but put the date in your diary and you can look forward to an outing to remember!
Till next week, Bye for now!