Kieran Keane and his players were out in the community yesterday morning on a visit to Ballinasloe. Players gave a coaching masterclass in Garbally College lead by former pupils Tiernan O’Halloran and Peter Claffey.

 

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Connacht Rugby Club Ambassador Programme.

The programme involves at least two professional players being designated to each of the 27 clubs throughout the province for the 2017/18 season.

Each ambassador will visit their club for a range of specialist coaching sessions and seminars throughout the season depending on the needs of each individual club. Players have been assigned to clubs taking into account previous playing or coaching experience in the area.

To celebrate the initiative, two representatives from each of the 27 clubs in Connacht will attend tomorrow’s European Challenge Cup game against Worcester in the Sportsground. Before and after the game, the club representatives will have the opportunity to meet with players and enjoy Connacht’s first home European fixture of the season.

Commenting on the launch, Joe Gorham, Head of Club and Community at Connacht Rugby, said: “We are delighted to be announcing this initiative. The core purpose of our Grassroots to Green Shirts vision is to inspire the community through rugby success. This initiative will strengthen the link between the individual clubs and the professional players.

“Clubs will have the opportunity to lean on the professional experience of players and the programme is a great opportunity for professional player development. Community is central to everything we do in Connacht and this programme is further example of that.”

For more information on our Ambassador Programme, please email [email protected].

The Rugby Players Ireland Awards took place on Wednesday evening with Connacht players Ronan Loughney and Jake Heenan both honoured on the night.

Ronan, a member of the Rugby Players Ireland Executive Board, was awarded the Medal for Excellence, which rewards on-field effort combined with off-field commitment to the game. The Galway man will finish with Connacht Rugby this summer after 12 seasons as a professional player. He was a member of the first academy squad assembled in the province and went on to play 191 games across the PRO12 and Europe competitions.

The Contribution to Irish Society award was presented to both Heenan and Hannah Tyrrell in recognition of their work in their respective communities.  After four years at Connacht, Jake continues to set an example on and off the pitch as a member of the senior squad. This season, he bravely told his story of facing adversity and the importance of talking to people in a nationwide awareness campaign known as Tackle Your Feelings with Rugby Players Ireland.

Jake gives a lot of his time supporting local charities and is closely involved as a volunteer with Dóchas don Óige – a provider of services for young people in the Galway city area.

2017 Rugby Players Ireland Awards – Winners

Women’s 7s Player of the Year – Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe
Medal for Excellence – Ronan Loughney
Moment of the Year – ‘One Day in Chicago’ – Ireland defeat New Zealand at Soldier Field
Supporters’ Player of the Year – Tadhg Furlong
Women’s XVs Player of the Year – Lindsay Peat
Contribution to Irish Society – Jake Heenan & Hannah Tyrrell
Try of the Year – Robbie Henshaw (v New Zealand, at Soldier Field, Chicago)
Hall of Fame – Geordan Murphy
Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year – Garry Ringrose
Players’ Player of the Year – Conor Murray

To find out more about Rugby Players Ireland, visit their website at rugbyplayersireland.ie.

Connacht captain John Muldoon brought the team back to his hometown on Thursday afternoon for an assembly and open training session at his former school, Portumna Community School, with members of Portumna RFC also there to greet the squad.

The entire student body, along with representatives of Portumna RFC and invited guests, packed into the school gym with tributes and presentations then made to Muldoon and the squad.

Young pupils from Gortanumera National School and St. Brendan’s National School also attended the assembly.

School Principal Derry Long, Deputy Principal James Coughlan, Portumna RFC President Mark Scannell and Anne Rabbitte TD spoke of their admiration for Connacht’s incredible rise to become PRO12 champions last season.

Connacht captain Muldoon and Head Coach Pat Lam then took to the podium and expressed their appreciation of the warm welcome provided by the community before speaking to the students about the importance of a positive attitude.

A number of presentations were then made to Muldoon as he became the first person to be awarded Honorary Life Membership of Portumna RFC.

Following the assembly, the squad had an open training session on the school’s pitch.

As Portumna RFC was dormant in Muldoon’s early years, he began playing rugby in the Community School and won a Connacht Schools Junior Cup medal in 1997.

Portumna RFC was reformed in 2002 and have strengthened year on year since. The U13 Girls team created history last year as they captured the club’s first ever Connacht title.

President Mark Scannell, who also coaches at the club, spoke of the positive impact that Connacht Rugby’s success has had on the club.

“It’s definitely turning people’s heads,” said Scannell. “There are more kids coming down and playing with us and getting more into rugby. There used to be Munster and Leinster jerseys around the place but they’re all Connacht jerseys now.”

The club fields an adult men’s team and a thriving underage section with boys and girls teams ranging from Under-7s to Under-15s.

Young players from the surrounding parishes of Tynagh, Loughrea, Mullagh, Woodford, Leitrim, Killimor and Lorrha have also joined Portumna RFC.

While hurling is the most popular sport in the area, rugby continues to grow and Scannell hopes that Thursday’s event will lead to even more young players joining the club.

“We always need more players and guys like John Muldoon coming out here to this event will give us a bounce and, hopefully, make more kids want to come play with us.

“John is an absolute legend of Connacht Rugby after 15 years with the club and he is a pure gentleman.

“Connacht certainly give us a bounce and many of the parents haven’t played the game but they would be avid fans, and that is down to Connacht.”

For more information on Portumna RFC you can view their Facebook page here.

Want to get involved with Portumna RFC? Call Mark on 087 6434230.

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