Blackrock College have announced that former Leinster, Munster and Ireland ‘A’ hooker James Blaney will be the head coach of their senior team next season. Blaney heads to Stradbrook after seven years in charge of Terenure College, who preserved their Division 1A status in the All-Ireland League last Saturday.
He takes the reins at ‘Rock from player-coach Mick Carroll, with the south Dublin club currently preparing to host Sligo in the Division 2A promotion/relegation play-off semi-final on Easter Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm). To stay in the third tier, they need to win that game and also defeat either Greystones or Rainey Old Boys.
Blackrock’s incoming head coach commented: “I’m excited for this new challenge and can’t wait to get started. They have built a great platform here at Blackrock and I see massive potential for future success.”
The 45-year-old Blaney began his professional playing career at Leinster in 1994 before joining Munster in 2000, where he spent five seasons with the province during which they were Heineken Cup finalists in 2002 and Celtic Cup winners in 2003.
After a playing career working with some of the best local and international coaches in Irish Rugby, he has spent the last 15 years coaching at Terenure College RFC following a transition to coaching in 2006 as player-coach and then assistant coach.
In his seven years as ‘Nure head coach, he took them from Division 2A to the top flight, famously winning the Division 1B title in 2013/14 with 18 straight wins and reaching the Division 1A semi-finals in both 2015 and 2018. Having struggled over the first half of this season, Blaney’s men won six of their last eight games to avoid relegation.
Speaking about the appointment, Blackrock’s rugby manager Clinton Arblaster said: “We are thrilled to have a coach of James’s calibre join the club. Over the last number of years, the club management have invested significantly in our teams and infrastructure and this appointment signals our continued intent to drive the performance rugby section of the club.”
Paying tribute to the departing Carroll, Blackrock director of rugby Michael Hearty added: “Mick has led our Premier Rugby and Academy agenda for the past two seasons, contributing significantly to a great crop of young talent being developed in the club. We would like to thank Mick for the huge amount of work he has put in and we wish him and Laura all the best for their next adventure in the US.”