Clondalkin Rugby Club’s Youth Programme has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 5 years. The 2016/17 season was a fallow period for the youths when we did not have a single team competing in a youths league, and the pain is now being felt at adult level with no home grown talent having been added for some time. Step forward 5 years and, after a lot of hard work and effort from a small cohort of dedicated coaches and helpers, we now have an amazing 5 youth teams making their mark around Leinster rugby.
Not only do we have record numbers playing at youth level, the talent has also been recognised at area level with an unprecedented 17 players from our 2004 and 2006 squads togging out for the North Midlands. We expect to see those number grow even more later this year when the 2007 North Midlands squad is announced with some very talented players in Dave McNamara’s u15s.
As we progress to the new grounds, the club are hopeful of adding a sixth and seventh youth team into the mix next season with the ambition of partnering with another club to field a combined u20s team. Talks are at an early stage but look promising. Another first for the youth programme will be the establishment of a girls’ youth team. One key enabler of making the girls team successful would be to have female coaches to connect with the players so any volunteers would be welcome in that space.
While the future is bright, there’s a lot of work still to be done to make sure we are able to provide a rugby outlet in the wider Clondalkin catchment area to every kid who wants to play. Our 13s, 14s and 15s in particular would benefit from some additional players to ensure they are sustainable through to u20s and we are forever on the lookout for more help in a coaching capacity, even if it’s only part time. Next year, we intend to add a full-time community rugby officer whose job will be to increase participation in local schools and filter those players into our youth set-up.
As the club brings to a close its time in Gordon Park, we anticipate we may be bringing a few more pieces of silverware with us, as our u16s and u18s are sitting atop their respective leagues and our u14s are in the mix to make the league playoff. Our u13s and u15s are also poised for a good cup run.
The future is bright and the future is yellow. In the coming years, we will see our youths transition to adult rugby and help make it a top junior club in Leinster. As the youths move to the senior ranks, they will be replaced by our current minis and that scene has never looked healthier thanks to the efforts of everyone involved there. In 5 years’ time, the hope would be to have a youth team at every age level for both boys and girls so while there’s lots done, we have even more to do. If you would like to be involved in this exciting evolution, please reach out to Derek Murtagh.
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