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Rugby Club Members Honoured At National Volunteer Awards

29 February 2024; Ian Ross of Enniskillen Rugby Club Fermanagh, second from left, receives his award from Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education Thomas Byrne TD, left, Federation of Irish Sport chair Clare McGrath, second from right, and Louth Sports Partnership and Louth County Council head of sport, Federation of Irish Sport board member and member of the Awards Judging Panel Graham Russell, during the Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Ian Ross of Enniskillen Rugby Club (second from left) receives his award from Minister Thomas Byrne TD, Federation of Irish Sport Chair Clare McGrath, and Federation of Irish Sport Board member Graham Russell ©Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Two members of the Irish Rugby family were honoured at the recent National Volunteer Awards – Stephen Dargan of County Carlow FC, and Ian Ross from Enniskillen RFC.

The Federation of Irish Sport recognised recipients of the 2023 Volunteers in Sports Awards, celebrating their dedication and giving freely of their time locally to make sport happen.

Proudly supported by the National Network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships, the committed volunteers from all across the country were honoured at an awards ceremony.

The special guest speaker, Minister Thomas Byrne TD, the Minster of State with responsibility for Sport and Physical Education, presented the 32 county awards.

Award winner Stephen is an integral part of the wonderful inclusive rugby initiative at Carlow Rugby Club, the Carlow Bees.

Speaking about the Carlow Bees, he said: “The Carlow Bees are probably the most wonderful team that we’ve had up in Carlow Rugby Club because it actually came out from a drive a number of years ago.

“I don’t know exactly of the history of it, but what I’ve learned from being involved is that Ireland has more inclusive rugby teams for children with physical and mental challenges than any other country in the world.

“So, we’re at the forefront of this. I’m involved with a group that is steering the rules for this, for the rest of the world in World Rugby.”

Stephen Dargan of County Carlow FC receives his award ©Seb Daly/Sportsfile 

Honoured for his work in developing Women’s and Girls rugby at Enniskillen Rugby Club, Ian commented: “The last eight or nine years at Enniskillen RFC have simply been a wonderful experience. The young people just simply want to have fun.

“While we, as a group of coaches, can go a long way to keep smiles on their faces – whilst at training and during matches – it is often them that keep us smiling and laughing. They have been the most wonderful young people I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with.

“Their success on the pitch is very much an extension of this fun-loving nature, where they regularly win Ulster Cups at all age grades, culminating in April 2022 when all three girls youth teams won their Ulster Cups on finals day. The local Grammar School (ERGS) are also the reigning Girls Schools Cup winners.

“Being chosen as the Ulster Female Club of the Year in 2023 was a fitting and proud moment for our superb Women’s and girls players and all the volunteers involved at the club.”

Speaking at the awards, Minister Byrne noted: “Volunteers are the backbone of Irish sport, and I am delighted to see their vital contribution recognised and celebrated by these awards.

“As Sport Minister, I am acutely conscious of the challenges involved with volunteering, and I recently welcomed the publication of the Sport Ireland Policy on Volunteering in Sport, which sets out an ambitious vision for a sports sector with the best volunteering culture in the world.

“The success of Irish sport would not be possible without the many thousands of volunteers that willingly dedicate their time every week, in every part of Ireland, to help others enjoy their sport. I want to thank every volunteer for their valuable contribution.”