I might just quickly reflect on last season and duly acknowledge the growing numbers of underage members and the tireless efforts of all our volunteers, coaches and players. The end of season BBQ was a great success and the trophy display on the night reflected the efforts of all concerned. I would like to specially thank Richard Godsil and family for their contribution during his term as Club President last year and Paul Barr, Head Coach, who has returned to Dublin and will coach in AIL Division 1. I would also like to acknowledge Jack Crowley’s progression in the Munster camp and James Collins-O’Brien, who was part of the Munster Junior Interprovincial winning side. I would also like to send our sympathies to JCB on the loss of his much loved Grandad, Dermott O’Brien who was also a huge supporter of club, and so proud of both James & Daragh.The club has also lost one of its longest serving members and trustee, Tony Neville, and our sympathy goes out to his wife Ina, daughters & sons James and Anthony (both active club members). During my own playing days, I recall Tony’s voice being louder than all others on the sideline and always encouraging the running game.We also lost a huge club supporter May he rest in peace.
So a new season begins for our great club and I am sure we are all looking forward to the coming year. It is a year where Bandon RFC will celebrate 140 years since being affiliated to Irish Rugby Football Union in 1882 and we will look to mark this significant milestone over the coming months and the club grounds will be decorated with flags and bunting as part of the celebration. The off season work has the pitches in top class condition that would be the envy of any club in the country, so much so that we have offered our facilities to Munster should they decide to engage in offsite training days.It is also our intention as part of the celebrations to mark the contribution of all retired players by inviting them back to the club for the All-Ireland Junior Cup home game v’s Cooke RFC on Oct 29th.
Coaching structures are all in place and if the turnout at pre-season training and summer camps is anything to go by, then we can look forward to a very competitive season at all levels. We welcome Darragh McNamara to the adult team coaching set up where he will work closely with Eamon Guinevan (Head Coach), Niall Mahony (Team Manager) and all the other background team.
Scott Kingston has been appointed as First Team Captain and will bring huge experience to a squad that hopefully will continue the cycle of including some new players from the underage section. Our first team came agonisingly close to winning the Division one league last year and will look to build on that this year. Bandon RFC will also compete this year in the All Ireland Junior Cup with a home draw on 29th October against a Northern Ireland Team, Cooke RFC, which should be another important date for our rugby calendars. Emma Lovell and Emily Crowley continue to invest significant time developing ladies rugby and the club offer their full support.
Bandon RFC is forever thankful to its members, parents, sponsors and supporters that continue to contribute to the costs of running the club and all its teams. Successful events such as the Club Auction and Golf Day have also provided much needed funds and we hope to include both events again in this seasons activities. Bob Brady is Vice President this year and we both hope to attend as many games as possible. The pitches have undergone extensive work over the summer, with massive drainage work undertaken in pitch 2, which will now allow it to be played all winter long. The pitches are vitally important to those who play on them and the club prides itself in having them in top condition hence the huge investment of over €20,000 during July and August. We particularly want to thank John Fulham for his time and effort in planning and overseeing this major work.
At this point I would like at this point to share a little personal information about me for those of you who don’t know me.
I joined Bandon RFC at the tail end of the 1991/1992 season. I had recently returned from Australia and accepted an invite from the late Niall O’Driscoll to train with the club. My brother Jim worked with Niall and suggested that I join, as my old club, Highfield RFC, season had ended. I duly joined with the intention of getting fit for the coming season. We trained on the old pitch on the Macroom road where facilities were minimal to say the least but great fun. I was immediately taken by the quality and the commitment of all concerned. I was eligible to play so played a few games and I could feel there was good balance of skillsets throughout the squad. While my original intention was a few weeks of training, I continued playing with the club for a good number of years on J1 and later on J2 Teams and also played with the Munster Junior squad during that time.
I had previously played schools rugby with Presentation Brothers and on leaving school, I joined Highfield RFC. I captained the U20 side and we were narrowly beaten in the Munster final after extra time. I played for a number of years in the 80s before I travelled abroad and then played very little rugby. On my return to Ireland, Highfield was my intention but best laid plans often go awry. I continued to play with Bandon and was honoured to also serve as captain in 1994, while Rex Lovell served as President.
On my return from Australia, I worked at Cork Airport, and served on the Airport Management Team for almost 30 years. During that time I had the opportunity to work in Russia and at Shannon Airport. I recently availed of an early retirement option and I am enjoying the easier life pace. This year I completed a UCC Masters in Government and Public Policy and I am currently filling a caretaker role in our local school.
I am married to my wife, Cora, and we have 3 sons. All would have been keen soccer players initially and I would have coached underage soccer for over 10 years with Corinthians FC. My 2 older boys attended Presentation Brothers and subsequently, with some gentle persuasion, converted to Rugby. Our eldest son, James, had been playing senior rugby with Highfield RFC before emigrating this year to New Zealand. Our second son, Shane, is part of the Munster Rugby Squad. Our youngest son, Darragh, suffered a brain injury (non sport related) as a young child and now as a teenager, continues to develop and amaze us as parents.
I look forward to the coming year as President of Bandon RFC. The club celebrates 140 years this year and we hope to schedule a number of events to mark the occasion. I wish all players and coaches the very best of luck and I shall endeavour to attend and support as many games as possible throughout the year. Our minis start back on September 3rd and I look forward to seeing as many girls & boys returning after the summer and as many new members joining us for the 2022/23 season.
So let the season begin and best wishes to all.
President Bandon RFC 2022/23