An underage rugby event in Limerick has proved a triumph of hard work and volunteerism over the past five years. Shannon RFC’s Good Friday Festival has grown from 24 teams participating in 2015 to 52 teams gathering in Coonagh this weekend.
That means over 1,200 rugby players, aged from Under-10 to Under-14, got to make new friends or perhaps score their first ever try in the Limerick sunshine.
Shannon RFC’s Underage Chairperson Michael McInerney says it is all down to the hard work of volunteers bringing it all together.
“Volunteers are the core of this club,” he explained. “Everything we do needs a volunteer to make it happen and this event is no different. People from the underage section and the senior section have come together and gotten stuck in. Months of planning has come into it but we feel we get as much out of it as we put into it.”
Aran Hehir started out as a minis player with the club and some of his favourite early rugby memories were getting to spend time with senior players doing their bit for the underage set-up. Now as a scrum half in the Shannon senior team, it is Hehir’s time to be a mentor for budding rugby players in Limerick and surrounds.
“The Shannon seniors were giving an Easter camp this week,” he said. “We were coaching underage players and then had a chance to see them put their learnings into action at the festival. It was brilliant. It’s just a really great day for the club to get together.”
Plenty of happy kids here at the Good Friday Festival of Rugby pic.twitter.com/G9UAXgBwve
— Shannon RFC (@Shannon_RFC) April 19, 2019
Women’s and girls rugby enjoy strong integration throughout Shannon RFC so it was only a matter of time before they became part of the Good Friday Festival. Under-14 Girls teams from across Munster came together to test themselves against each other.
Shannon’s senior captain Emma Casey is another player to come through the ranks. “It’s come on so much in the last few years,” she said. “I started out at Under-12s and at least twelve of our current senior starting XV have come up through underage.”