It was a huge honour to be asked by Athy RFC to become their second only Lady President in the history of the Club and being only a young slip of a thing, I felt doubly honoured to be considered for such a prestigious role, normally reserved for those of a finer vintage than me…
To be the President of any Club is an onerous task at the best of times but as a lady to come into a male dominated environment at the head of the table poses its challenges in a number of areas, but not to be defeated and to ensure the lineage of female presidents continues into the future, one of the first tasks undertaken by the Club under my guidance, was to set up a Ladies Rugby team for the first time. This proved to be an enormous success and indeed, not only did our ladies win their League, they gained promotion and a Youths Ladies team has now been established and Athy have set their markers for ladies rugby into the future.
We were also asked by Leinster Rugby to host the four Ladies League Finals in the Club on the same day in January, a mighty job but we were well up for the task. Indeed, we did such a fine job; we in turn hosted the Towns Cup semi-final in April, another hugely successful day in the calendar for the Club.
As in all good plans, there was also a knock-on effect to the establishment of the Ladies team, as a number of relationships were struck up within the men’s and ladies teams and no doubt, the future of Athy rugby has been laid down, and there are minis teams both male and female being nurtured as I write this. However, I will not claim any responsibility for the results in that particular section of the Club.
It was a very busy year for me as President, both on and off the field. Notwithstanding all the Committee work, Saturdays and Sundays were taken up with matches from minis and youths up through the senior sections. I feel perhaps I endured one of the coldest winters in my memory on the side of the rugby pitches of Leinster last season and it is a true reflection of the calibre of the players when the subs offer the President one of their thermal suits during the course of a match as the easterly winds stripped skin and hair off us all on the side-lines in Ashbourne back in March.
I was lucky to be in the driving seat when we were awarded €;100,000 through the Sports Capital Grant Programme towards the refurbishment and development of our changing rooms, which planning is at advanced stage and work is expected to start in the next four weeks in advance of next season commencing. When completed, not only will we have one of the best playing pitches in Leinster but will have state of the art changing rooms and will be capable of hosting Interpros in the coming seasons.
I was also proud that a number of our Youth Players were selected for the Leinster Youths teams, with two players Joseph Carbery Jr. and Jeremy Loughman both earning Irish caps and continuing to be involved in the Irish development rugby programme. I expect that a few more Athy names will feature next season as our current squad of youths players are proving themselves and impress their coaches and the Leinster Youths coaches also.
But weather aside, it was a hugely successful Presidency and one of the most enjoyable years of my rugby career to date, I had the pleasure of being President to a group of the nicest, most respectful young gentlemen and ladies from all age groups and was proud to represent them all as their President. Athy RFC are blessed with the very loyal and supportive members that it has and with all the development plans that are in place for our Club in the next year, Athy RFC is on the up and up and will feature in many a big moment on the rugby pitches from now on.