Thank the stars for Dungarvan’s Under 10 team, who provided the numbed (in more ways than one) masses with some sterling entertainment at Thomond Park on Saturday night.
Scoring a couple of marvellous tries in their meeting with Listowel, the young men of Ballyrandle wore the blue and white with great pride at the home of Munster Rugby and truly rose to the occasion.
While the club’s First XV is labouring in Division Three of the Munster Junior League currently, Dungarvan has made tremendous progress at juvenile level in recent years.
Just six years ago, a handful of children in the area were playing mini-rugby. But thanks to the diligence and enthusiasm of the club’s juvenile committee, there are now over 150 registered Dungarvan RFC players involved from under seven up to under 17.
Growing player numbers on the back of Munster’s expanding popularity have also been recorded at the Waterpark, Waterford City and Carrick-on-Suir clubs in recent seasons.
All three clubs have developed facilities with juvenile players in mind and are now reaping rich rewards from their respective efforts to promote the game locally.
Meanwhile, the Munster Ladies team were paraded during the half-time break in recognition of their third successive Interprovincial Championship victory.
Among the squad which saluted the applauding Thomond Park crowd were Kate O’Loughlin, a primary school teacher at Portlaw NS, a native of Carrick-on-Suir and a member of Clonmel RFC.
Kate, a highly effective performer in both the second and back row, was presented with the ‘Unsung Hero’ award in recognition of her provincial efforts last month.
Her club mate Niamh Briggs received the Munster Women’s Player of the Year award from a squad which also includes Natasha O’Keeffe (Clonmel) and the Waterpark quartet of Jo O’Meara, Sinead Fitzpatrick, Orlaith Buckley and Clara Bracken.
From a supporting perspective, it was disappointing to see so-called fans leaving Thomond Park before Alan Lewis’s full-time whistle, sending the word ‘fairweather’ running through my head at the time.
Now being in the job I’m in, I’ve no option but to stay in my seat until the final whistle is sounded, but whether I’m note-taking or not, I’ve never left a ground early in my life. Now will I be doing it any time soon.
If you’re truly serious about your sport, you don’t think about avoiding the traffic as a match approaches its final moments. If you do, then why bother going?
On a positive note, there was no plumb-voiced cheerleader prancing about the pitch pre-match roaring “Munster, Munster” into a microphone as proved the case when Clermont came a calling in the ERC.
A forced atmosphere is even worse than a low-key atmosphere, with the latter persisting throughout Saturday’s fixture. It makes one wonder might singing sections inside the stadium be considered by the Munster Branch at a future date.