THE meeting of Ennis and Garryowen in the Munster U-18 Cup final on Sunday is the biggest underage match that Ennis has ever played in, according to team coach John Colleran.
“It’s the showpiece of Munster rugby at youths level and for a junior club like Ennis, it is massive. It shows the strength of the game at youths level in our club. It has come about as a result of the effort over the years by a lot of volunteers. It’s the culmination of all of that,” said Colleran, who is eagerly looking forward to the final.
A coach with the club for more than a decade, Colleran has been involved with this group of players since they were at U-10 level.
“One of the reasons I got involved with this group was because my son Jack had taken up the game. As a parent, I was there watching. I said I would like to have the experience of more time with my son,” he explained.
“We have had a great group of lads up along the age groups. One of the highlights of my time with this group was when we took 40 U-11s to Frankfort with 12 parents travelling with the group. We played in a big tournament there and we got to the final, where we were beaten. We had three teams in the competition. A year later, we won the North Munster U-13 league helped by the experience gained in Frankfort.
“Since then, we have contested numerous North Munster finals, losing out at semi-final and final stages. This group lost out to Young Munsters in the U-16 Cup final. We have a big group and they have gelled really well together. We have five or six U-17s in the starting team. The lads are very committed to each other and they play fast and open rugby. George Guilfoyle joined the coaching team this year and we have a lot of effort put in and the guys have responded well.”
Colleran says they are excited about playing at Thomond Park.
“It’s a great achievement for them to play there and it’s the aim of every youngster that goes in there to watch Munster, to play at the venue. The fact that they are getting to play there is huge for the young fellas,” according to the Ennis coach, who expects a big Ennis following for the final.
“The buzz around the club at the moment is great and there are lots of enquiries about the final. Players are coming to the club from around the county, from places like Kilmihil, Ennistymon, Lahinch, Sixmilebridge and Quin. They are coming from everywhere and the effort they are putting in is huge, as is the effort being put in by the parents.”
The team is captained by hooker Jack Colleran and hopes among Ennis officials and supporters is that he will be accepting the trophy shortly after 5pm on Sunday evening.
By sports editor Seamus Hayes