The GAA may have a particularly high profile, but many other sports are blossoming in this region, including rugby, with Creggs Rugby Club enjoying a sparkling renaissance on and off the pitch. The good times are back in Creggs, where current success is being matched with superb, strategic medium and long term planning. As the senior team celebrates last weekend’s Cawley Cup success, and on the occasion of the commencement of training at their new facilities, we asked Creggs Rugby Club President PADRAIC DEANE for an end-of-season report on an ever-evolving success story…
Creggs Rugby Club enjoyed a glorious first couple of decades after it was formed in 1974, but this great opening era was followed by a 20-year period (give or take) of relative stagnation. However, in recent years, Creggs has been undergoing a renaissance and matters are now looking very upbeat in the village both on and off the field. Padraic Deane is the current Club President, the man who has been in the hot seat during the amazing period of transformation. The Roscommon People caught up with Padraic earlier this week to get an update on all that’s happening in Creggs Rugby…
There have been major developments with regard to the club’s facilities, as well as a focus on growing player participation levels from U-7s up to the recently formed Over-35s touring side. Creggs teams are back winning cups, heralding a return to the good days, with much more to come, hopefully!
“We have been working on a sustainable model for the last three years. We started putting development structures in place under my predecessor Kieran Dowd’s presidency. This encompasses the full player development route from Mini rugby – starting with seeing U-7s having fun while they learn basic skills – through to producing very competitive senior squads,” said Mr. Deane.
It’s 44 years since a few lads from the village and environs had the good foresight to get together to form the club. Amazingly, within four years, Creggs had won the Connacht Junior Cup, the blue riband of rugby in the province. And there were so many great days in that era…with a great first team, a very good second team, and a great women’s team. It was a wonderful vibrant period in the club’s history, with an annual expectation of winning leagues and cups. But it wasn’t just about competing and winning – the members and players were fully committed and enjoyed every aspect of the experience. The craic was great in Creggs!
Fast-forward to nowadays and thankfully the club has recovered from a long barren period and is a force again, with very competitive teams at all levels. The craic is back too, with adult teams and all the boys and girls on the youth teams really enjoying their rugby.
Padraic Deane: “I’d like to acknowledge, and give a massive overdue thanks to, the club leaders and players who got us through those tough and lean times”.
He continued: “Dave Purcell has been and remains the key figure in organising the development of the Mini, Youth and Schools structures that today are resulting in benefits at all levels. Dave has been supported by many other great coaches and parents. In addition, the arrival last season of Micheal Glennon as new Connacht and Creggs Rugby Club Regional Development Officer (CRDO) was very significant. We appreciate the support of Connacht Rugby and Roscommon County Council with this appointment.
“Following promotion last year, our First Team and Development squads are both going well. The Firsts won the Cawley Cup last Sunday and are second in the top division of the Connacht League. Under Head Coach Pat Cunningham, fellow coaches Ger Dowd and Liam Callaghan, Kevin O’Rourke (manager), Berney Higgins (assistant manager), and Club Captain Kevin Brandon, this squad has progressed very well, with more to come from this team.
“Following promotion last year too, our Development squad coaches Mattie Corcoran and Paul Turley, plus Sean Brandon (manager), have built up a large squad. The team are mid-table and with more training in the second half of the season, they should be in contention at the business end of the season.
“Our U-18s follow the teams of the last two years in being top of the league. The U-17s qualified for their Connacht League Semi-Final last Sunday. The U-16s and U-15s are also in contention in their respective leagues. And our U-14s and U-13s continue to develop. We have record numbers of Mini rugby players at U-7s through to U-12s, and they are all looking forward to a special club blitz on Sunday, December 30th on the new artificial all-weather pitch. Well done to Shane Fleming and Graham Curran, plus all the parents and coaches who do great work helping develop skills with all the Mini players.
“Last but not least is the very welcome return of Girls rugby. The U-14s have been a revelation since they started last August. Their endeavours have been well rewarded – the girls have been chosen to play at half-time in an Ireland Women’s Six Nations game in March. There will also be an U-16 Girls team playing in the Cup in the New Year”.
The Club President said that Creggs Rugby will develop new Girls’ dressing rooms in advance of the start of next season.
Also on facilities, he added: “After many years trying to negotiate the purchase of adjoining land, we finally did so three years ago under the stewardship of Kieran Dowd, who as Immediate Past President remains central to all that is happening in the club.
“The additional land has allowed us to develop two new sand-based grass pitches and also the first full-sized International Rugby Board approved artificial pitch in Connacht. Just opened for training and Youth team games last Friday, this will remove the necessity to cancel games in very wet weather in our Irish winters. We had a very strong and hard-working pitch committee looking after the development of the three pitches, with a club founding member, Kieran Brandon, acting as site foreman for the duration of the work.
“Many club members and friends of the club gave a lot of their time and materials doing great work, firstly with the clubhouse upgrading, where central heating was added and latterly with the pitch development works. Without this generous donation of their time by so many, we couldn’t have stayed within budget for such a large project”.
Padraic concluded by wishing all Roscommon People readers a very Happy Christmas on behalf of everyone at Creggs Rugby Club.