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Leinster Rugby | Membership in Focus: Athboy RFC

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Boy! Oh Boy! athboy.

The Meath rugby membership has suffered sufficient blows to have it fold endlessly.

However, this place, and these individuals, are made from stern stuff. Based in 1978, it had already gone by means of a fallow interval wherein senior rugby was suspended from 1995 to 1999.

Simply this summer season, it appeared like the identical destiny awaited the gamers and members till a ‘Name To Arms’ triggered a renewal of religion from some previous troopers satisfied to return to the battlefield.

The knock-on impact of the pandemic triggered a variety of gamers to show away from the sport. For the 2021/2022 season, it was determined it was in the perfect pursuits of Athboy and native rivals North Meath to amalgamate for one season.

“We had been within the Leinster League for a variety of seasons, getting as excessive as Division 2A. Subsequently, we dropped all the way down to Division 3. We weren’t that aggressive and started to lose gamers,” says Athboy stalwart Fergus O’Boyle.

“Then, Covid kicked in and knocked us again. Once we got here again in the summertime of 2021, we simply did not have sufficient numbers or sufficient dedication.

“Actually, an uncomfortable dialog started in March 2021 when neither Athboy or North Meath had been faring too properly and numbers at coaching had been disappointing. It simply made sense to tug all of them collectively,” concedes Fergus.

Often, the prospect of becoming a member of forces along with your native rivals can be a unpleasant one. Not a lot on this case. They wanted one another.

“The mixing went properly as a result of we hadn’t performed North Meath to construct up a rivalry. We at all times appeared to be in numerous Divisions of the Leinster League by means of the years.

“We did not see one another sufficient to construct up that animosity or dislike that usually comes with the lengthy historical past of a neighborhood derby. We had been by no means onerous rivals.

“Maybe, that’s the reason we had a profitable season. We got here third in Division Three. We gained the North-East Jenkinson Cup and the Plate of the Seconds Cities Cup.”

There was a temptation, even ambition, to remain collectively because the membership co-operation had led to a primary and second group, offering depth and competitors for positions.

At a late hour, the choice got here down from Leinster that the 2 golf equipment needed to divide and conquer this season, Athboy shedding three gamers, Padraic McGurl, Graham Boland and Jordan Herring, to North Meath within the Leinster League.

“We now have had conversations with all three gamers. Their desire was to play at a better stage. We perceive that. The door is at all times open for them to return again to us,” he says.

In mid-August, the proximity of pre-season prompted a small membership assembly wherein it turned clear that the battle for numbers may properly drive the membership to tug out of senior rugby.

The message was stark and clear. One thing dramatic needed to happen or there may not be a membership to return to.

“One among our members, Bryan Quirke, went away from that assembly unwilling to just accept the worst state of affairs. He spent the following day, calling everybody and anybody linked to the membership,” states Fergus.

When a superb man calls, it is onerous to say no. Athboy withdrew from the Leinster League and dedicated to the Metro League, shifting from enjoying on Sunday to Saturday.

“We all know we have now to make issues occur on and off the pitch,” he says.

“We ended up with a 15-man committee, together with finance and improvement committees to get the membership up and shifting once more.

“There’s a Three-Yr plan. All of it begins on the park. There’s a deal with our U-12s to convey them up by means of the grades, ultimately making that connection to senior rugby.

“Grownup-wise, in the meanwhile, we’re restricted to social rugby in Division 10 of the Metro League. We begin from there, seeing how our numbers stack-up. We wish to appeal to new gamers to the membership.

“When it comes to membership improvement, we’re at present altering out of transport containers for the dressing-room and bathe block. They’ve reached their sell-by date whereby they owe us nothing.

“We wish to construct everlasting dressing rooms to supply the amenities to assist appeal to new gamers and hold our present ones on the membership.

“The great thing about the cub is that we do not really owe anybody something. The land is owned by the membership.

“Possibly, it has led us to take a seat on the fence and never push ourselves into moving into the type of monetary dedication meaning higher amenities.

On Saturday, October 1st, Athboy performed their first League match since October 4th, 2020, when recording a double-scores 14-7 victory over their company Athy at Townspark.

It was a first-taste of life in Metro League Division 10, the bottom stage of competitors within the province, an indication of the place the membership stands at current.

“It was pretty to be again as ourselves. The pitch was immaculate. An hour earlier than kick-off, Owen Kerrane put an additional coat of white to make the pitch markings stand out much more,” shares Fergus.

“While you consider Athboy, it is without doubt one of the smallest cities in Leinster and, thus, one of many smallest golf equipment too. The inhabitants is someplace round 2,500-3,000.

“Right here, we have now the GAA disciplines, hurling and soccer, a soccer membership, the rugby membership and a group heart that hosts 35 completely different sporting/exercise organisations.

“It’s a well-supported sporting city. Nevertheless, it is like your St Patrick’s Day parade, you’ll be able to’t get sufficient youngsters to run from one group to the following, to the following. The numbers solely stretch to this point. It is vitally parochial.

“It wasn’t that way back that we had been one among three rugby golf equipment in Meath, alongside Navan and Ashbourne. Ratoath and North Meath had been arrange just lately.”

The actual fact Fergus was listed because the Membership President, Teaching Co-Ordinator and Youth Co-Ordinator within the Leinster Rugby Handbook for 2020/2021 speaks to a person who has given again. After which some.

“I loved my 20-odd years enjoying rugby in Athboy, assembly actually good mates, making sturdy bonds through the years.

“It’s that need to provide again to a membership that has given me a lot that retains me going.”

It seems like others really feel the identical approach.

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