Dave Clarke is looking forward to taking up where the Galwegians Women’s team left off last season, as they look to kick on after winning the Energia All-Ireland Women’s Plate in April.
There is continuity in ‘Wegians’ coaching set-up, but this time Clarke will be the head coach with Eoghan Maher switching to the assistant/forwards coach role. Clarke was the backs and skills coach last season.
The Blue Belles were sixth place finishers in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division before Christmas, and lost the Conference final to Wicklow before bouncing back to end the campaign with silverware, including a Connacht Women’s Cup triumph for their seconds team.
Fiona Scally scored the all-important try in their 25-19 Plate final victory over Blackrock College, a game which saw retiring duo Mairead Coyne and Mary Healy both make their final appearances for ‘Wegians.
Coyne and Healy were two of the 21 ‘Wegians players that were part of Connacht’s 2022/23 squad, and a similar amount is expected to play in the upcoming Vodafone Women’s Interpros before the Energia All-Ireland League kicks off in September.
With the club’s senior and junior squads recently returning to training, Clarke, who had an impressive 10-year senior playing career at Crowley Park, commented: “This year I take on the role of Women’s head coach, with Eoghan as my assistant.
“This season we hope to keep building the Women’s squad, develop more players into the AIL structure and welcome new starters to Women’s rugby.
“We have a great backroom team working on all things off the pitch, so it allows us to focus on the execution on the pitch. The fire is still in the belly and I’m very excited for the season ahead.”
Promising young backs Kayla Waldron and Laoise McGonagle are currently away with the inaugural Ireland Under-20 Women’s squad in Italy, while there is plenty of excitement about the ‘Wegians’ contingent that will be involved in Connacht’s home games against Leinster and Ulster next month.
The club are also currently looking to appoint a development coach who will lead the coaching of the seconds team in their Connacht competitions, as well as working alongside the senior coaching duo.
Maher, who has played for Monivea and Buccaneers and come through the Connacht sub-Academy system, said: “Coaching the Galwegians Women has been an outstanding learning experience, and I’m excited to carry on next season with this talented squad.
“The hard work and determination from these ladies from last season gives me loads of confidence heading into pre-season this year. I’m eager to develop what we have worked on and add more to our game.”