Loughrea RFC hosted the latest end of season blitz at their headquarters last Sunday. 11 teams from 6 clubs met for an afternoon of U16, 7-aside action where the emphasis was on sportsmanship and enjoyment rather than challenging for honours.


One of the organisers, Connacht Rugby’s Galway Development Officer Craig Hansberry, said:

“It’s a fantastic day out for these young athletes, these participation blitzes are a great way for players to get one last run out before the end of the season. Most of these players aren’t involved in playoffs, or have already been knocked out of cups so to be still playing rugby at the end of April is a bonus.”


Teams from Westport RFC, Claremorris Colts RFC, Galwegians RFC, Sligo RFC, Ballinasloe RFC and hosts Loughrea RFC played 10-minute matches over two pitches in glorious sunshine at the Ballygasty venue and fine weather, coupled with the lack of pressure of silverware meant for some scintillating action.


Hansberry added:

“From a developmental perspective is brilliant to see these players trying new things, chip kicks, off-loads, skip passes, these are the slightly riskier plays that may not be encouraged during the competitive season, so to see these players enjoying themselves, taking chances, developing new skills, that’s what these blitzes are all about.”


Games started with a round of rock-paper-scissors to determine who kicked off, an event that drew some of the biggest cheers of the day, and that the tone for an afternoon of silky skills, good humour and plenty of comradery as the Youths rugby season draws to a close.


Women’s Rugby in Connacht is thriving like never before, and now Connacht Rugby is shining a light on all the great work that has been done in the past and is continuing to take place around the province to promote the female rugby stars of the future.

Every week you’ll get to read a bit about every club in Connacht that offers a Girls Rugby programme. You can find out about what they’ve done in the past, how many teams they have, what times they train and who are the people that bring Girls Rugby to life in the club.

This week we have Westport RFC, with text and pics with thanks to Liz Brady.

Westport is the home of some of the earliest female rugby in the Province. Young players who came into the minis set up looked for and inspired the Youths set up that is the foundation of today’s U14, U16, U18 and Women’s teams that have hit the pitch over this past season.

Girls’ Youths built up slowly as players came through the ranks and wanted to put a bit of shape on things and make their mark in Connacht and further afield. From the early days, the Girls’ section has grown and gone from strength to strength, not only on the pitch, but in the lifeblood of the Club.

A dedicated group of coaches, managers, parents, club members, and most importantly, players, have taken the proverbial Bull by the horns and made Westport RFC their second home!

Players have come from a vast geographical spread from Connemara, Ballinrobe, Louisburgh, Newport, Achill, Castlebar and Westport. Indeed, our newly established Women’s team is drawing players from Spain, Italy and even Clare. Athletes have transferred their skills to and from a multitude of sporting backgrounds including Gaelic football, Camogie, Swimming, Athletics, Sailing, Handball and basketball.

“Girls travelling from Achill Island, Leenane and Inisbofin weekly, it just shows a little bit of the love and dedication these girls have for one another and for the sport. Westport RFC is more of a family than a team, the girls put their bodies on the line week in week out and they do it all with pride. If it’s plaiting eachothers hair, scoring tries or even just belting out some pregame tunes, these girls do it with such enthusiasm and a true reflection on girls’ rugby. We’ve made memories that will last forever and most importantly we’ve made lifelong friendships.” (Aisling & Nina -u18s)

“At 14 in second year in school I saw a sign to try rugby in school and decided to go down on Tuesday evening, in the rain and wind and loved the physicality of the sport, at the start we didn’t have many teams near us but the craic was 90 in the bus going all over the country, and nearly 10 years later we still re-tell the stories and howl with laughter. As we got older we gained more skills and became better rugby players and this year we finally have a senior team and we did the cup and league double, something our coach told us we could do if we believed in ourselves and the feelings at both finals whistles are something i can’t describe, unfortunately the result last Saturday didn’t go our way but the feeling of being on the pitch with some of your best mates and playing some unbelievable rugby is what dreams are made of, I honestly can’t put into words what it like to be part of this clubs and especially the senior women team, I have 27 people who I can call at any time of the day with a problem and they will help me sort.” (Becky – Senior)

While everyone enjoys success on the pitch, it’s the long- lasting friendships and sense of community in our rugby family that are the real measure of success. Heading off to Dublin for Irish International matches, camping in Achill, Club and personal celebrations have given us experiences and memories that are made richer by our commitment to our Club and each other.

Mixed Friendly with Connemara

At an Irish International @Donnybrook



U14s joined up with Corinthians this past season

One of our players piping in the Women’s World Cup

Sumo Coaches entertaining the crowds at a Club celebration.

Westport’s Inaugural Women’s team.

Players and coaches from Connacht Rugby, in conjunction with Official Fuel Partner Top Oil, attended Rice College, Westport and Calasanctius College Oranmore recently to meet and inspire the next generation of rugby players and students within the school.
In Oranmore, Sean O’Brien made a welcome return to his alma mater Calasanticus College. He was joined by fellow senior professional players David Heffernan and Stephen Fitzgerald along with Club & Community Rugby Officer Morgan Codyre.
Coach Development Officer JP Walsh was joined by senior professional players David Horwitz and Tom McCartney on the pitch in Westport. Head Physiotherapist of Connacht Rugby Gareth Coughlan was also on hand to answer questions and provide expert insight on what it takes to prepare and maintain high level professional players.
The young students learned the importance of preparation and how a mix of hard work and commitment, rest and correct nutrition along with the ambition and belief to succeed can ensure high performance on and off the field.
Commenting on the initiative, Regional Manager for Top Oil Clíona Ní Murchú commented:
“As a family owned company with deep roots in our community we work hard to make a difference in the communities we serve. We are delighted that through our sponsorship of Connacht Rugby we can create special moments such as these to inspire the next generation. It was great to see so many boys participating in the training session and asking some really good questions during the Q&A.”
Connacht Rugby Sponsorship Manager Gavin Duffy commented:
“We have seen significant growth in participation across our school’s program over the last number of years. Top Oil are not only our Official Fuel Partner but also the sponsor of our Schools Cup competitions and their continued support over this period has been significant and greatly appreciated. Like Connacht Rugby, Top Oil are committed to making a positive impact across our communities and it is great to see this particular initiative of connecting todays professional players with the next generation of stars bringing our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts alive.”



Westport RFC are the Connacht Women’s Cup winners for 2019 after the Mayo side powered their way to a 53-10 win over NUIG at yesterday’s final at The Sportsground.
Here are some of the best pics from the encounter.

Seven teams from eight clubs have learned their opponents for this year’s Connacht U20 Cup which will be held across the month of April.
The U20 Cup will see teams representing Ballina, Ballinrobe, Connemara Corinthians, Creggs, Monivea/Westport and Sligo face off in a knockout series of games with three quarter-finals before two semi-finals and a decider on the Easter weekend.
The draw was conducted by two Connacht men who were integral to Ireland U20s Grand Slam win – forwards coach Ambrose Conboy and hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin.
Check out the pairings of some intruiging games we’ve got coming up in the weeks ahead!

Sligo v Ballina
Monivea/Westport v Ballinrobe
Creggs v Connemara

Sligo or Ballina v Monivea/Westport or Ballinrobe
Creggs or Connemara v Corinthians

More silverware is up for grabs on Sunday when 10 teams compete in 5 league finals across the province, ranging from the U15 Boys to the Women’s League.
First up at 12pm are the Division 2 finals at U15 and U17 level. Corrib will play host to the U15 Division 2 decider between near neighbours Monivea and Dunmore, while at the same time in Ballina there’s a meeting of Westport and Sligo in the U17 Division 2 final.
One hour later at 1pm to more deciders will kick-off in Ballinrobe and Ballyhaunis. Ballinrobe will play host to the Connacht Women’s League final as Westport take on NUIG, while Ballinasloe and Galwegians will face off in the U17 Division 1 final in Ballyhaunis.
The last of the deciders gets going at 1.30 in the U15 Division 1 final as Galwegians take on Buccaneers, with Ballinasloe acting as the venue.
Best of luck to all 8 clubs, and we’ll have the results for you on the Connacht Club & Community Facebook page on Sunday evening.


Skills and Smiles Galore at End of Season Blitz

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