The sixth rugby club in Donegal and the second during the first 3 years of the Donegal Community RugbyProject was officially opened last month on Wednesday 14th April.
The club had the honour of having current Ulster Forwards Coach and former Ulster, Ireland and Lions second row Jeremy Davidson to unveil a plaque that will in years to come take centre stage at Finn Valley Rugby Club.
The event was also well supported by local rugby clubs Donegal Town, Tir Chonaill and Inishowen as well as representative from Finn Harps and McCools GAA. The club were also delighted to see past St Columbas teacher Aiden O’Shea at the launch who has been flying the flag for rugby in the Finn Valley for over 25 years and introduced several of the current committee to the oval ball. The speeches on the night came from Donegal Community Rugby Project Chair, Graeme Cattermole; Ulster Youth Chair, Bobby Stewart, Finn Valley RFC Chair, Gerard Doherty and finally Jeremy Davidson to officially open the club.
The club have been up and running since November and have continued to develop the game in the Finn Valley for mini rugby ages U7 to U12 for girls and boys. The club are based between St Columbas College and the Finn Valley Centre. The club is open to all children in the Finn Valley and welcomes any new support from the community to help drive the development forward.
Congratulations must go to Gerard Doherty and the rest of the club committee, Kate Boyle, Damian McGlyn, Catherine McMenamin, Jonathan Cowan, JC Bonnar, Barry Laverty and Philip Heapes for laying the foundations for rugby to flourish in the Finn Valley. The future is looking very bright with quality personal and some of Donegal’s strongest rugby primary and secondary schools in the area.
The opening of Finn Valley RFC now puts Donegal high up in the rugby ranks. The County now has a wide spread access to the game for all in the county to sample through the involvement of 18 secondary schools and 6 clubs providing rugby. The secondary schools in Donegal continue to go from strength to strength and now have an established committee that is driving the game forward beyond all expectations.
The 300% growth in club players has come as a result of the strong club/school links that are forming. Once these links are fortified the success of high schools and clubs in Donegal will soon follow. The rise in girls and women’s rugby has also been substantial with high numbers of girls playing contact rugby at U15 and U18 level in the schools and U16 and U19 level in the club. This growth has also continued into the seniors with Letterkenny and Ballyshannon starting senior women’s teams during this season.
The 6th club also gives Donegal the third highest numbers of clubs per county in Ulster which I’m sure is a pleasing development to Ulster Rugby and its new chief executive Shane Logan who is driving to spread the game across the 9 counties and make Ulster one of the top regions in Wold Rugby. With the unrivalled growth of the game, Donegal is sure to be part of this vision.