Sligo RFC enjoys one of the loveliest settings of any rugby club. In the shadow of Knocknarea, on the edge of Strandhill and with Ben Bulben looming over Sligo Bay, this club is perched on the western shore.


It is the kind of place that attracts wanderers, surfers and backpackers. One or two have pitched up in Sligo for the surf and stayed for the turf – the rugby turf that is.

But Sligo RFC is rooted in the history of the game. The club was founded in the early 1900s and Sligo Grammar School has always provided a stream of players.

That stream started to dry up as young players headed to college in Limerick or Athlone or further afield, but the club have worked hard in recent seasons and more young players are coming into the club with the prospect of Ulster Bank League rugby.

Club coach Simon Galvin, a ‘Sligoised’ Kiwi, also spends time coaching in the school, offering a continuity of contact.

Emigration and travel are always going to loom large for clubs in the West of Ireland. Sligo is no different but they are ready for the challenges ahead.

Club captain Paddy Pearson is another New Zealander who has put down roots in the area. Having arrived to play for a season he suffered an unfortunate accident.

The loyalty of the club in helping him through saw him pitch up the following year looking to play again – and he has not left since.

The club game is evolving and Sligo epitomises this – they have underage teams from minis right through to Under-19s, their Women’s team is thriving and their Tag rugby programme is proving to be a valuable source of income and fresh players.

Sligo lost by a single point to fellow newcomers Boyne in their Ulster Bank League Division 2B opener last weekend. Yet, regardless of how the season pans out, this is clearly a club that is planning for a bright future


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore