THE women of Ballincollig RFC will head into uncharted territory when their season kicks off as they will play for the first time ever in the All Ireland League Division 1.
The women’s section at the club has been growing steadily over the years and they have won All-Ireland Plate finals in the past but the AIL will be a huge stepping stone for the players and the club.
With that in mind, they have brought in a new and very experienced coaching team for the women’s side.
The new head coach is Damien Hicks, a former Director of Rugby in Bantry RFC, the club who have been responsible for producing current Munster second row Fineen Wycherley and his younger brother Ireland U20 star Josh.
Hicks brings in a huge knowledge of the game and structure to give the team the best opportunity to compete against the top sides in Irish club rugby. His help should also see some of his players vying for Munster and Irish jersies in the next couple of seasons.
He will be helped by former Munster and Ireland back Helen Brosnan, who has played at the highest level representing Ireland in the 2010 World Cup. Brosnan has been the Munster senior women’s assistant coach for the last two seasons and her experience will be invaluable as will former Munster and Ireland player Ger Rea who will be working on the players skill levels as well as co-ordinator for the women’s section.
To step up to the challenge of playing at the higher grade the management team has been concentrating on getting the squad's strength and conditioning right. They have used one of the great supporters of the club over the last 10 years, Luke Dennehy, owner of Dennehy’s Health and Fitness’ facilities to get ready for the new season when it kicks off.
The S&C coach is Eoin McMahon and the 27-year-old native of Scariff, who has an Honours Degree in Sports Strength and Conditioning from LIT will be leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the players are ready for their physical challenges.
McMahon has been involved with the Clare GAA underage and with the FAI Emerging Talent Squad in Galway so brings plenty of experience to the club. He has also been part of the backroom team for Tipperary senior hurlers for fatigue monitoring. He has been a Personal Trainer at Dennehy’s Health and Fitness since 2018.
The players, for their part, are really stepping up to the plate says the club’s director of rugby Denis Stevenson.
“The commitment the players have taken on over the preseason has shown the desire to be competitive in the coming few seasons and also to bring Elite Rugby back to stay in the Rebel county after a five-year absence.
"Ballincollig, as a club, are providing every resource possible to all the women grow and develop to be on the international stage. This is helped by the club’s main sponsor Quish’s Super Valu, Ballincollig.
“We are recruiting athletes from all sports to give them the opportunity to play at the highest level possible, international level. The team will be playing their All-Ireland League games on Saturday evenings at 5pm.
"Thanks to development the club has invested in over the last number of years with two fully floodlit pitches and are continuing to invest in getting the third pitch floodlit with the help of the members of the club and a fundraising committee.
“This hopefully will also allow us to enter a second women’s team in either the Munster Junior league or compete in the Development League to start off this season,” said the director of rugby.
The club will be providing rugby for girls over the coming seasons for ages seven to 18 also as they look to develop their home-grown talent in Ballincollig and surrounding areas.
Anybody interested can check out the club’s social media pages.
The club are also ringing the changes in their men’s side with an addition to the coaching team. Highly respected coach Fergus Burke continues as head coach this season and will be joined by former Midleton starwart Aidan McCarthy, who has been appointed as the men’s forwards’ coach.