Chair hosts reception for Enniskillen Rugby Football Club Under 18, Under 16 and Under 14 Girls Teams

31st May 2022

Chair and 3 Captains

Recently the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson, hosted as reception for Enniskillen Rugby Football Club Girls Under 18, Under 16 and Under 14 Teams who won their respective age categories at the Ulster Girls Youth Finals Day.

Below is the text of the speech which was delivered by Councillor Thompson at the reception:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to Fermanagh Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen this evening for this reception to recognise the success of Enniskillen Rugby Football Club’s Under 18, Under 16 and Under 14 Girls Teams in the Ulster Girls Youth Finals.

I understand that your progress to the Finals is based on your achievements in League fixtures throughout the season and all three teams excelled in this phase. As a consequence of the performances in your respective leagues, you were seeded gaining you a place at the Finals Day.

Th 17 April 2022 will certainly be a day to remember for Enniskillen Rugby Football Club as your returned with a clean sweep of three Ulster titles.

The Under 14 Team, under the coaching of John Leonard, Rodney Kingston, Brian Magee and Shane Johnston, started of Finals Day with a match against Letterkenny / Limavady which, I understand, was a tough challenge but your energy, youth, desire and teamwork saw you emerge five tries to two tries securing a place in the final against Cavan based team, Virginia.

The final was another tightly contested match and with just seconds to go the score was level at three all, however, using your pace and your power you advanced forward and scored a try in the corner to be crowned Ulster Under 14 Girls Youth Champions and kick start what was to be a memorable day.

Attention then turned to the Under 16 team under the coaching of Ian Ross.  Your first match of the day was against a combined Ards/Ballynahinch/Cooke team who had scored a lot of points on their way to the finals.  The 10-15 minutes were challenging, however, you soon powered past their try line and this helped to settle any nerves.  At half time the score was 26 nil and you really started to enjoy the match going on to win by a very impressive score line of 66 nil securing for the club the Ulster Under 16s Girls Youth title.

The final match was the Under 18s showpiece against Southern Stars from Armagh and you started the match knowing that your club mates had already secured two trophies to take back to Enniskillen.

Coached by James Moore and Alistair Keys, the team started strongly with an early try helping to settle any nerves. You took control from that point, racking up a further four tries before half time.  The Southern Stars fought back in the second half with three tries, however, your determination to match the successes of the Under 16 and Under 14 teams gave you the motivation to score a further three tries and emerge as the Ulster Under 18 Girls Youth Champions completing a clean sweep for Enniskillen Rugby Football Club.

The achievement of all three teams is remarkable and I understand that the Under 16 and Under 18 teams are unbeaten in all Ulster Rugby matches this season and the Under 14s have also lost very few matches.

It is often said that being part of a sporting team is like being part of a family and I understand this to be a unique family relationship within the three teams with many of the coaches having their daughters in the team.

This level of success is testament to each of you as individuals and the commitment and dedication you have given to the team which has been invaluable.  As well as your individual contributions, you have also demonstrated your ability to work as part of a team and this team spirit was key to your success this year as you all worked effectively together until the final whistle.

Ladies rugby has grown from strength to strength in recent years and Enniskillen Rugby Club can be proud to have produced two international stars with Kathryn Dane, now the first choice scrum half for Ireland and Clare Boles starring for the Ireland “7”s team.  I am confident that with the talent in this room tonight, many more will earn representative honours for Ulster or Ireland.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend all your Coaches for their skills, leadership and motivation and for the time they have invested to inspire you and make you as successful as you are.  I also understand that a key role within the Girls Teams is the level of support and commitment shown by the ladies of the Club who are vital in the role of chaperones to travel with you and provide much needed support in the changing rooms.

All Black legend Richie McCaw once said “I don’t believe in magic, I believe in hard work”. Anyone who has ever watched the All Black’s would realise that there is no shortage of magic in the way they play, but as Richie says, their success is predicated on hard work.

There is certainly a lesson in that quote for all of us who wish to succeed whether that be sport or indeed in life and the success you have enjoyed, this year would indicate that you possess an unerring determination to work hard, thereby creating that little piece of magic.

As individuals and a team, you have shown your commitment and willingness to practice and work hard to develop the skills to be the best at rugby and I commend you for this.  These are invaluable attributes which can be easily transferred to your academic studies and, in the future, the workplace.

In sport, school, college and work, I would encourage you to continue to practice and work hard so you can pursue your individual goals and dreams and be the best that you can be.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I congratulate each and every one of you on your successes to date, you can be proud of your achievements and you have certainly done your Club, your family and friends and your District proud and I wish you every success for the future.

Thank you.