Martin O’Sullivan from UL Bohemians RFC in Limerick was enrolled as the 127th President of the Irish Rugby Football Union at today’s annual Council meeting in the Aviva Stadium.
Martin O’Sullivan assumes the highest office in Irish rugby as the first member of the amalgamated UL-Bohemians club, having played a leading role in the then unique merger in 1999 between the University of Limerick and Bohemians clubs.
The retired Bank of Ireland manager also bridges a gap of 44 years since Dom Dineen from Bohemians was IRFU President, in the 1971/72 season.
Sligo-born, the well know and popular O’Sullivan was first introduced to rugby through his father Tom’s involvement with Sligo RFC, although it was when the family moved to live in Limerick in 1966 that his rugby career took off.
The first milestone was as a member of the historic Munster Schools Junior Cup-winning St. Munchin’s College squad in 1970. This was followed in senior club rugby, as a back row forward, by distinguished playing and coaching careers at both Bohemians and also Dolphin, when his banking career saw him transferred to Cork.
He spent 11 seasons with Dolphin, highlighted by a season as first XV captain and a season as first team coach. He also coached the Munster Junior interprovincial team and Clanwilliam RFC and served as secretary/treasurer of the Munster Branch coaching committee for eight years.
On returning to Limerick in 1987 and rejoining Bohemians, O’Sullivan (pictured above with his predecessor, 2014/15 IRFU President Louis Magee) coached the first XV in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and contributed richly to the establishment of the club’s renowned Academy. It has produced numerous Irish-capped players at various levels, highlighted more recently in senior ranks by Tommy O’Donnell, Dave Kilcoyne, Dave Foley and Barry Murphy.
He was also instrumental in establishing the club’s first Women’s section. It has won 11 All-Ireland League titles and been linked with 25 internationals and five Irish captains, including Fiona Coghlan, who led Ireland to Grand Slam glory in 2013, and Niamh Briggs, captain of last season’s Women’s RBS 6 Nations Championship-winning team. He was club President in 2003/04.
Elected as the Bohemians club delegate to the Munster Branch in 2003/04, O’Sullivan served as Chairman of the Professional Team Management Committee for four seasons and on being elected to the IRFU Committee in 2005, he served on several high-powered committees. He has been a member of the Management Committee for the past six years and been Chairman of the Representative Game Committee and the National Team and Professional Contacting Review groups.
He also played a key role in the Union’s Plan Ireland process which has resulted in the establishment of the National Professional Game Board and the employment of David Nucifora as the IRFU’s first Performance Director.