Roy Maguire has seen his fair share of clubs down through the years. His career in hotel management was always going to necessitate a nomadic life style but it never effected his love for the game of rugby which started with underage rugby at Garryowen then on to Bohemians before he embarked on his travels.
Each new posting was a chance to join a new rugby club and a portion of the first day of every job was devoted to locating and signing up to the nearest club. Having travelled throughout Ireland, England and France playing for clubs from Ashbourne to Sudbury he moved to west Cork ten years ago and hasn’t moved since.
This time the local club were Clonakilty a Munster Junior league Division 2 side with bags of passion and plenty of local support. He claims to have played one game – a pre season friendly against a team made up of the town’s footballers – before deciding that the rule stating you must train to play each week was not going to suit him at this stage of his long career. He has pointed out that he is still available for selection should that rule change!
Committee member Roy O’Neill invited him to the next club meeting where the vacant position of PRO was to be filled; they simply needed the odd match report sent into the papers. How could he refuse and from that moment he was hooked.
Today, under the pen name Loosehead, he writes a full page in the Skibbereen based Southern Star each week on all aspects of the club from the AIB league 1 side to the ladies side and from the under 20s all the way down to the under 7s. A weekly diet of analysis, wit and hard news that is read by club members and supporters throughout the region.
In November 2006 the new Volunteer of the Month awards were launched in Munster and Club Development Manager Damon Urlich presented the award to the Clonakilty man for ten years of service to his club. Maguire was honoured to receive the award.
“I was very pleased that my club choose to nominate me. However, I’m just one of a number of volunteers who all deserve as much credit. It’s the same in every club I have been involved with, there are a handful of people who do an enormous amount of work and they all deserve credit.”
Maguire freely admits that his gathering information for the column takes a couple of days each week. He also emails the column as a newsletter to hundreds of the clubs supporters around Ireland, Europe and beyond.
“I suppose it’s a good thing that I am self employed otherwise it would be hard to find the time, but I enjoy it and I have learnt through my years in the hotel business not to quantify my work in terms of how long each task takes.”
Volunteers in club rugby are in short supply throughout the country and all clubs are constantly looking for more help. Maguire agrees that there are never enough people and new help is always welcome providing a fresh approach.
“I believe a club is the result of the sum of the efforts of its members. On Saturday afternoons only fifteen members can wear the colours onto the field. That is the highest honour that the club can bestow. It is therefore only in participating in the effort to field this fifteen that everyone else can feel part of the picture.
“The seconds and thirds are essential in this effort. From the coach of the under 7s, the groundsman, the volunteers that man the pumps in the bar, provide food for teams, run the disco and the fundraisers everyone has a part to play. It is only by doing their bit that the volunteer can share in the highs and lows experienced by the club.”
The club’s rise over the last ten year’s has been remarkable. From second tier Junior rugby to the Munster Junior League and Cup titles, AIB Round robin winners in 2001 and then crowned Division 3 Champions and promotion to Division 2 in 2006 (pictured left). Add to that All Ireland titles at under 16 and 18 levels and a Ladies title to boot. This is a club that is going places.
“The town and surrounding community really do get behind the club, every time we have gained promotion or secured cup honours there has been a civic reception for the team. It’s a traditionally a GAA town but I think the two sports co-exist well.”
“We never put pressure on kids to choose between sports both clubs simply provide them with ample opportunity to play and decide for themselves which sport suits them better.”
As PRO for the towns Chamber of Tourism, Maguire has had no problem selling his home town for the past ten years. He is proud of the club’s stance as one of the top three in the county and the leading force for rugby in west Cork.
“When I first arrived the club struck me as no different then any of the others I had been involved in terms of structure. Except, after a short period, I realised there is a conveyor belt of young talent in the region like nothing I have seen before. In a recent AIB league game, 18 of our 20 man panel had come through the underage structure.”
Clonakilty RFC don’t do things by half, they are an ambitious, confident and welcoming club and have their sights firmly set on reaching the top level of the game both on and off the field. Maguire is one crucial cog in a big wheel and was a worthy recipient of the Volunteer Award.